Candy Moulton: Reading the West 12-3-12
With the holidays fast approaching it can be hard to find the time to sit down and read a novel. After all there are holiday concerts and programs to attend, family to visit, shopping to do, not to mention planning for and cooking holiday cookies, candies and dinners. But one should not (I would say cannot) forget to read and enjoy great stories.
A Log Cabin Christmas Collection is an offering of nine historical romances in one book. They are longer than a traditional short story, but not novella length, meaning you can read any one of them in a couple of hours. There is a Christian overtone to each of the stories and all have one common thread: a log cabin.
But the characters and the stories are geographically diverse. Margaret Brownley in “Snow Angel” introduces Maddie Parker, a teacher in a rural Texas school in 1885. This New Englander has only recently moved to Texas and is not quite prepared when she and some of her students are forced to remain at the school when a snowstorm sweeps over the country. The sheriff Brad Donovan reaches the school but he, too, must hole up with teacher and children until the storm passes.
“Christmas Traps and Trimmings” by Kelly Eileen Hake is set in Appalachia in 1811. Liz Johnson sets her story “Star in the Night” in Franklin, Tennessee in 1864 against the backdrop of the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War while Jane Kirkpatrick draws from the experiences of early settlers in Oregon in 1867 for her story “The Courting Quilt.”
Other stories are “Under His Wings” by Liz Tolsma, set in Wisconsin in 1875; “The Dogtro Christmas” by Michelle Ule, set in Texas in 1836; “A Grand County Christmas” by Debra Ullrick is not tied to a specific place or year, but reflects on the lives of early German immigrants in the United States.
Erica Vetsch draws from the history of the Minnesota North Woods for her story, “Christmas Service.” This last story in the book reminds us that even if we can do it all, sometimes it may not be best for us or those around us that we do do it all; allowing others to contribute their own efforts makes the celebration of the season all the more meaningful.
A log cabin figures in each of these stories, which was no doubt the “instruction” provided to the authors who contributed to this anthology. For the most part the cabins are important to the story and it is no stretch to understand that place being used to drive the narrative, but there are a couple of stories where the characters take over so completely that the cabin becomes a simple prop.
If you need a break from the holiday preparation and hustle-bustle, and want to read a romance and particularly one with a Christian message, this book will completely fill the bill. ❖