11 December 2006

Christmas in Harmony

Philip Gulley's Christmas in Harmony isn't the type of book that I usually read. I was convinced that I would hate it, but steeled myself to slog through this short book for a bookclub read. So, I was surprised that I found myself laughing aloud throughout the 80+ pages of this book.

This was my first venture in reading of the fictional town of Harmony and its lovable but flaky inhabitants that are gently ministered to by Pastor Sam Gardner. It's almost Christmas when the story opens and the members of the Harmony Friends Meeting want to do something different for Christmas Eve services. Irascible and unpredictable, Dale Hinshaw is determined to have a progressive Nativity pageant -- sort of like a progressive dinner, but without the cocktails, horsd'oerves, entree and dessert. In addition to the chaos of the crass rendition of a Nativity scene, Pastor Sam Gardner deals with children skeptical about Santa Claus, finding the perfect tree, arguing with his wife over the sending of greeting cards, an exploding truck, the loneliness and fears of his congregation, and with attempting to build an inclusive congregation in a church where the parishioners are wary of strangers. What ensues is funny, heartwarming, and charmingly descriptive of how people deal with changing traditions without losing the 'true' meaning of the Season.

The fictional town of Harmony is a nostalgic place, a sort of mid-western American Brigadoon. It is a nostalgia for a time and place that has never existed, but that we all at some time wished had. Harmony is a town that is befitting of its placename; despite the flaws and quarrels of its inhabitants, is a harmonious place of grace and forgiveness, where the reader ends up loving the characters in spite of their foibles.

This is a quick read that is perfect for someone looking for a short holiday-related book. It is a delightfully sentimental book that will put a smile on your face and make you want to hang some mistletoe and colored lights, although you might re-think the plastic creche set on the front lawn!

This is my first post for Carl's holiday fun challenge.


Courtney said...

oh, I enjoyed this review and it does sound perfect for the holiday season. Some times feel-good books are just what the doctor ordered! Courtney

Carl V. said...

Thanks to this challenge I heard of these books for the first time and my wife is getting the first two in the series for Christmas! They sound like the Jan Karon books to some degree and we both really enjoyed those and I'm sure we will these as well.

Sherry said...

Yes, I think I've heard of this series before, too. However, I've never read any of them. Maybe I'll see if I can find one and check it out.

Anonymous said...

I've read the first two books in this series, and really enjoyed them.

I don't know if you've tried Jan Karon's Mitford books, but I found them similar, and enjoy all of them.