I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit, NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport
Published by BARBOUR PUB Incorporated on 2017-10
Genres: Christian, Fiction, General, Holidays, Romance
Source: CelebrateLit, NetGalley
Celebrate the joyful hope of the Christmas season as characters find healing in the midst of heartbreak. New from Olivia Newport! Christmas in Blue In the wake of a personal loss deeper than anyone realizes, Angela plans to bypass as much of the season as possible and get through her duties as the church organist by going on autopilot. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town's celebration. After a mysterious young man arrives, townspeople suspect he is the reason that one set of plans after another disintegrate until little is left of their traditions. Yet Angela warms to Gabe because she suspects they share a secret--his real reason for coming to town. Even when all they have to work with is a garish supply of blue Christmas decorations, Gabe helps Angela discover the hidden beauty of hope. Christmas in Gold After eighty years, change is nothing new for Astrid. By the time she was twenty, she survived the destructive Nazi regime, caring for her family under brutal circumstances, moving to America, and losing her husband. At forty she was widowed again and left to build a new life with her children. Now, when she faces a move into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up hope through tragedy one more time.
I wasn’t sure what I expected when I picked up this book. I knew it wouldn’t be the normal sweet everything is love and light during the holidays book that many centered around Christmas usually are. I actually appreciated the author’s note at the beginning where she talks about the fact that for many, Christmas also signifies the line between the first time without vs the last time with. You generally don’t know it’s the last time until it’s over. I would assume that if people were honest that the holidays are more about the memory of what has been lost than a true embracing of the season as love and light. Christmas can be hard.
Another thing I really appreciated with these two stories is that they don’t try to be bigger than they are. They aren’t trying to be a full-length novel with a full slate of time. That is the one thing that frustrates me more than all the others with novellas. Sometimes just being a snapshot, a moment, is enough. I also appreciated that they didn’t rely on finding happiness again and romance and all those things. They were about two people in two very different situations just making it through, finding a way to make the best of their situation, and living life. They had histories and futures but they also had a moment.
Astrid’s ‘Christmas in Gold’ was a story of so much loss. Loss of her home, loss of her freedom, loss of her mobility. She had so much to gain with new friendships, new ways to view her world, and new ways to find her independence. This story set me a tidbit sideways due to the lack of adequate back story with Carly. It came later but took me a bit to get into the switching view points. I LOVED the way Newport wove in the stories of Astrid’s past in WWII Germany to the current day with the ever-present theme of Gold. This story is truly about making the best of any situation and working through the despair you might feel to find the positive of love and light.
Angela’s ‘Christmas in Blue’ was so very different from Astrid’s story. She had long since grieved her husband but now she was grieving her bestie. Her bestie who lived and breathed Christmas. If it was also revealed that Carole was an avid reader, possibly even a reviewer, I would replace her name with Kristin. And put myself in Angela’s shoes. I loved the theme of Blue in this story. I kept hearing ‘Blue Blue Christmas’ by Elvis Presley in my mind while I was reading this. The hard part for me with this story is the way the character changes took place and the side-ways way the ‘visitor’ to town was brought in and then treated as though I should have known who he was all along. I felt, even as he was brought to light, that I was somehow dense and still missing something. One thing that truly stood out was the service the church had on the longest night of the year to help people with their own Blue Christmas. The idea that it’s not always love and light but loss and isolation. That hope comes with comfort and overcoming. Angela needed to embrace her Blue Christmas. The community needed it. Embracing it hopefully leads to healing. And compassion for one another. And healing from the hurts.
Whether you have experienced a Gold Christmas with memories of what was or a Blue Christmas of finding comfort and hope in the holiday season, this book has something to offer every reader. It was written with grace and compassion. It was written as a snapshot of two lives at two different stages of life. And, in my opinion, it has something that would benefit every person who chose to wrap themselves into the pages for a moment during this holiday season.