Monday, October 18, 2010

book review: "the nativity collection" by robert morgan

All six short stories in this book take place on Christmas though it’s in different places and times. “Ollie” is about a boy and his family going Christmas shopping. It’s 1963 and they spend the day buying presents and picking up the necessary items for their traditional Christmas dinner. Through a series of events, they end up at a neighbor’s house who mistakes them for her family who passed away when she lived in Germany. They celebrate Christmas with her, giving Ollie a chance to change his perspective on what the season is really about.

“Poet Boy” is about Robert Louis Brendleton and the Christmas play he reluctantly stars in as Joseph when fourteen. Brendleton suffers from stage fright and instead of saying his lines the night of the play, he recites various lines from poems he’s read during the many hours spent in the library in his home. For example, when Mary gives her line about being called blessed, Brendleton responds, “Oh Mary,” he said, “how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight…I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.”

“Over My Dead Body” tells the story of Max Schroeder, a gifted woodcarver. Though he mainly whittled sheep, he was inspired to make a nativity. He began receiving offers for the masterpiece but would always give the same response, “You shall have it…over my dead body.” When Schroder finally passed away, no one knew who he left the nativity to. At the reading of his will, it was revealed “he left it to all of them – by leaving it to none of them.” He was buried beneath his church and left the nativity to the church so it would be displayed…over his dead body.”

The final story is titled “Sugarplum and the Christmas Cradle.” J.B. and Sugarplum are newly married and their families are less than thrilled that she’s already pregnant. J.B. sets to work making a beautiful cradle for his son, spending all of his spare time carving and sanding. When he finally shows it to his wife, she’s speechless at the simplistic beauty of it. Yet their son was never to see it. Shortly before Sugarplum would give birth, they were summoned to Bethlehem to take part in a census. And we know how the rest of the story goes.

I liked the uniqueness of each story. Some were light and funny while others a little more deep. I think maybe the last story was my favorite. It was interesting to read about Mary and Joseph in a modern setting. “The Nativity Collection” definitely helped put me in the mood for Christmas.

I received a free copy of the book from Thomas Nelson and was not required to write a positive review.

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