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Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Christmas Pearl by Dorthea Benton Frank~★★★

Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Title:
The Christmas Pearl
Release Date:
October 23rd, 2007
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre:
Holiday Fiction

Book Jacket: "Theodora is the matriarch of a family that has grown into a bunch of truculent knuckleheads. While she's finally gotten them all together in South Carolina to celebrate, this Christmas looks nothing like the extravagant, homey holidays of her childhood.
What happened to the days when Christmas meant tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, over-the-top decorations, and long chats in front of the fire with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved housekeeper and closest confidante?
Luckily for Theodora, a special someone who heard her plea for help arrives, with pockets full of enough Gullah magic and common sense to make Theodora's Christmas the love-filled miracle it's meant to be."
Taryn's Review: Last year I noticed this book on my library's list of Christmas books, but it was always checked out. I get sentimental around Christmas and really wanted to read a heartwarming story. I waited eagerly for the book to be checked in, but I always missed checking it out! When I went to the library at the end of November this year, I snatched it up, as I need a little holiday cheer.

The book was sappy, sweet, and Southern. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book when Theodora recounted what Christmas time was like when she was a child. Granted, she grew up as the white child of an wealthy, elite family in the South, so her Christmases were grand. Theodora also felt loved by those all around her, including her family's maid, Pearl. Pearl never seemed to mind her role as maid and appeared to genuinely love Theodora and her family.

Flash forward 80-some-odd years later. Theodora was the last living member of her childhood Christmas memories and all her current family members do is bicker and fight when they are together. This is the point in which the book lost some of its Christmas sparkle for me.Theodora took little responsibility for never piping up and telling her family members to stop arguing, so in sweeps Pearl, a Christmas angel from the past, to help Theodora's family realize the gift they have in each other. Pearl used her Gullah magic on the family to make them happy.

Sometimes I like magic in a book, but in this case, I wish the family could have gotten along without the Gullah spells placed on them by Pearl. It seemed so, well, easy to make everyone get along then. There wasn't much substance to the family'd reconciliation, just a yelling match and then all is well. But I did enjoy reading the recipes in the book and I loved that Benton included some recipes at the end of the book for readers to try!

Overall, it was okay for me. I loved the beginning, but even with Pearl back in the picture, I really didn't get the holiday vibe I was looking for in the 2nd half of the book. I think there are much better Christmas books out there, but this was quick and fairly entertaining, especially if you want a Christmas read and don't have much time to devote to a book in December.

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