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Christmas Bells, by Jennifer Chiaverini
A teacher in present-day Boston is stunned by somber news as she prepares for a Christmas concert at church. But when she discovers the full story of Longfellow's famous 1863 poem "Christmas Bells," it speaks across the generations to bring her hope---just as it did for a nation in the midst of the Civil War.
Number of Pages: 336
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.30 (inches)|
I heard the bells on Christmas Day / Their old familiar carols play / And wild and sweet / The words repeat / Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
In 1860, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family celebrated Christmas at Craigie House, their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The publication of Longfellows classic Revolutionary War poem, "Paul Reveres Ride," was less than a month hence, and the countrys grave political unrest weighed heavily on his mind. Yet with his beloved wife, Fanny, and their five adored children at his side, the delights of the season prevailed.
In present-day Boston, a dedicated teacher in the Watertown public school system is stunned by somber holiday tidings. Sophias music program has been sacrificed to budget cuts, and she worries not only about her impending unemployment but also about the consequences to her underprivileged students. At the church where she volunteers as music director, Sophia tries to forget her cares as she leads the childrens choir in rehearsal for a Christmas Eve concert. Inspired to honor a local artist, Sophia has chosen a carol set to a poem by Longfellow, moved by the glorious words he penned one Christmas Day long ago, even as he suffered great loss.
Christmas Bells chronicles the events of 1863, when the peace and contentment of Longfellows family circle was suddenly, tragically broken, cutting even deeper than the privations of wartime. Through the pain of profound loss and hardship, Longfellows patriotism never failed, nor did the power of his language. "Christmas Bells," the poem he wrote that holiday, lives on, spoken as verse and sung as a hymn.
Jennifer Chiaverinis resonant and heartfelt novel for the season reminds us why we must continue to hear glad tidings, even as we are tested by strife. Reading Christmas Bells evokes the resplendent joy of a chorus of voices raised in reverent song.
"Brings history to life."Parade
"Chiaverini stitches together a series of lightly interlocking contemporary vignettes in an intriguing way....A gentle exploration of tragedy, hope, the power of Christmas, and the possibility of miracles."Kirkus Reviews
"Chiaverini...hits all the right emotional notes in this heartwarming story."Booklist
"Chiaverini writes a heartfelt story of Christmases past and present."Library Journal
"Both the historical and contemporary stories are moving, with vivid and sympathetic characters, and they mesh together smoothly and naturally."Historical Novel Society
More Praise for Jennifer Chiaverini
"Historyand its colorful characterscome alive."USA Today
"Jennifer Chiaverini imagines the First Ladys most private affairs through the eyes of an unlikely confidante."Harpers Bazaar
"[A] must read book...Chiaverini has a knack for finding fascinating, if unheralded, women in historyshe favors the Civil War eraand shining a light on them with readable historical novels."New York Post
"[Chiaverinis] depiction of the essential decency of some of our nations early leaders is a high point."Booklist
"In addition to simply being fascinating stories, [Jennifer Chiaverinis] novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years."Milwaukee Journal Sentinel