Friday, November 28, 2008

A Lumberjack Christmas ...Revisited

A Lumberjack Christmas... Revisited by Janet Elaine Smith
(Star Publish / 1-932-99359-2 / 978-1-932-99359-2 / October 2006 / 176 pages / $14.95 / $11.66 Amazon / originally released September 2003)

Reviewed by Celia Hayes for PODBRAM

This short and charming book is really a pair of linked stories – one set in 1870, the other in the present day, linked by family ties and traditions, and by a celebration of Christmas in the deep woods of Minnesota.

The 1870 Christmas story is set in a rough logging camp, where two people have arrived: Martha, a feisty young woman has come to join her fiancĂ©e, and a young doctor, haunted by his service in the Civil War. The camp has been struck by a mysterious epidemic. Among the dead is Martha’s intended. Heartbroken, she remains at the isolated camp, assisting with nursing the sick and having not much interest or inclination to go anywhere else. Gradually, she and the doctor realize their mutual attraction – as well as considerable affection for the people they have come to know, including the outsized sawmill owner who runs the camp, and the only other woman in the camp, a young widow with three children who also serves as the camp cook. In the depths of winter, all of them need a Christmas miracle – and in the course of ensuring a visit by Santa Claus and a fine Christmas for the children, they all find it.

The modern day story centers on a young girl, also named Martha, the many-times granddaughter of Martha and her doctor of the lumberjack camp. The logging camp is long gone, but young Martha and her parents, and her grandparents are in just as much need of a Christmas miracle. Her parents’ marriage is troubled, and her grandmother is hospitalized with a mysterious ailment… even the family dog is moping. Will the magical Christmas tree, deep in the woods perform another miracle? Janet Elaine Smith has a knack for writing deceptively simple, old-fashioned stories, set in very real places, and with very sympathetic characters. Lumberjack Christmas, together with A Christmas Dream, is a wonderful evocation of the holidays.

See also: Janet's website
Interview with Janet Elaine Smith
Review of A Christmas Dream
Review of Recipe for Murder

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