Our Simple Gifts: Civil War Christmas Tales
The author has written several books of Civil War fiction with one character, a Welsh officer who solves mysteries, which successfully combine adventure, war stories and a pious, sensible, rather practical man who lives in times quite as interesting as ours. This volume is a slim collection of four stories, set in Civil War times and at Christmas but otherwise having no other connection to each other and none to Abel Jones of his other works. The strength of these stories is their ability to show believable human responses to the twin emotional hurricanes of war and the Christmas holiday. The thread running through these stories is the question “how do I live my life under these conditions?” and since these are short stories, we don’t have long to find out the answer. Mr. Parry exhibits a fine grasp of the nature of prejudice in general, and in particular of his period. This is shown by the attitudes toward the Irish and the poor, which rings especially universal, and also toward the moral nightmare of slavery. While it is a Christian holiday being celebrated, the emphasis is not on Christianity, but on spirituality, and finding light where there is darkness. The stories are fine reading and would be very effective read aloud. It’s not necessary to wait for Christmas to read these.