Have you had a tiring year? Donna VanLiere’s “The Christmas Shoes” (2001) will help you get through these last few days of 2010. It’s not mindless cheeriness; there is tragedy.
But there’s something on the other side. “Some people go their entire lives missing the small miracles that happen throughout the day — those small blessings God sends from heaven to make us smile, laugh, or to break our hearts, and gently nudge us closer to His side,” this Christian book begins.
This is the story of two families. One is poor, with two children, spouses with lots of time for each other, and a wife who suddenly discovers she has cancer. She won’t survive. But she’ll see all the miracles around her.
The other family is rich and healthy, with two kids, a workaholic father, and a wife who’s had enough. The husband who has it all sees nothing around him but paperwork.
It’s the shoes that help save him.
In a very different vein, Rambo creator (and ex-pat Canuck) David Morrell offers an action- and suspense-packed holiday book with “The Spy Who Came for Christmas” (2008). The story begins in Santa Fe, which means “Holy Faith,” with a Russian hoodlum out hunting. His quarry is an American intelligence agent stumbling wounded through the snow.
The spy was first sent in to uncover the Russian Mob link to Al Qaeda, but he’s since lost his nerve. He can no longer cope with the violence he’s forced to inflict to maintain his cover. So on Christmas Eve, to save it from terrorists, he’s stolen a baby.
And in his bid to escape, he’d dragged a mother and her son into danger with him.
It’s Christmas Eve, and as the spook awaits the inevitable assault, he retells the story of the birth of Christ, through a spy’s lens. It all goes back to the Magi, travelling in secret, who get caught.
“The Spy Who Came for Christmas” is filed in the Large-Print section.
Finally, detective fiction faves Mary Higgins Clark and daughter Carol have made an annual Yule tradition of happy-ending, easy-read novels.
Mary started it all off herself, with “All Through the Night” in 1998. The book begins with a thief who steals chalices from churches suddenly discovering an abandoned baby.
And it also begins with a funeral. But when a surprise new will shows up that takes the dead woman’s NYC building away from a church and needy children and instead gives everything over to a couple of tenants who seem a bit fishy, two old friends jump in. Amateur sleuth Alvirah (Hercule Poirot’s her role model) and plumber hubby Willy, favourite Higgins Clark characters, celebrate Christmas with detective work that brings good cheer to those who deserve it. Including to kids and their Christmas pageant.
Soon after, Mary began writing jointly for Noel with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark.
“Santa Cruise” (2006) was written for those who run off to warmer climes in the dead of winter. The writers bring their creations together– the retired Alvirah and spouse, and Regan Reilly, on her honeymoon cruise with her own new hubby, a cop.
Also along for the ride are assorted good folk, a gaggle of mystery writers, a handful of professional Santas, a snooty butler, and a small colony of rats — the human kind.
“Santa Cruise” is filed in the Large Print section.
“Dashing Through the Snow” (2008) brings our heroes back together for another Christmas celebration, this one in New Hampshire. The tale begins with a group of down-on-their-luck working stiffs winning the lottery. But one guy didn’t go in this week, falling instead for big talk from a coupla small town crooks.
This is a love story bookended by misunderstandings and con men.
But in the world of the Higgins Clarks, all’s well that ends well.
The delightfully cantankerous humorist Mordecai Richler may be gone, but his books live on. “Barney’s Version” — the movie! — opens in Montreal on Dec. 24.
You’ll find a collection of Richler’s oeuvre in the Adult Fiction shelves, including “Barney’s Version.”
Books by some of his children (Daniel, Emily, Martha, Noah, and Jacob) are filed right next to his, something that would have undoubtedly made the man who spent a good amount of his life writing here in the Townships quite proud.
Richler would, of course, also have been honest in his appraisal of their work, pro and con, just as he was honest (some say too honest) about life, hypocrisy, and self-delusion.
You’ll find Richler’s work in non-fiction and there’s an overview of his life in the biography section, as well. And of course, Jacob Two-Two, the little boy who repeated everything twice because no one listened to him the first time, is in the children’s section filed under his dad’s name.
– Eleanor Brown, December 17, 2010