A Victorian Christmas Collection

Written by Peggy Stoks
Review by Nan Curnutt

This is a collection of five Christmas stories set in Minnesota during Victorian times, each accompanied by a recipe from the author. Each story is different, but all provide a theme of hope and renewal for the holiday season. In “Tea for Marie,” Marie learns the value of people whose actions are louder, and more honest, than their words. In “Crosses and Losses,” an affluent family never lets go of hope for their emotionally absent father. Rebecca learns about true beauty when facing her feelings about the birthmark that scars her face and life in “The Beauty of the Season”; and in “Wishful Thinking,” an elderly spinster learns not to take life too seriously as she discovers it’s never too late for love.

Stoks, a former nurse, draws from the things she knows to enrich her stories. Most of the conflict surrounds characters whose depression has a debilitating effect on their lives and the lives of those around them. Each of these characters experiences an epiphany that dissolves their depression, and sometimes, this epiphany suspends belief. However, since this is a book of stories celebrating Christmas and the Christ Child, and since all things are possible, this reviewer will step out in faith and accept all. This is a cozy group of stories suited for a snowy night, a warm fire, a pot of tea, and some of the recipes the book contains.