Mini Reviews #8: Historical Christmas Story Collection

From time to time, you need a good collection of short stories. Something to make you dream of Christmases gone by. And, as it turns out? Historical Christmas story collections are just about the perfect thing for that! Who’d known, right?

I was offered ARCs of the books designated with an * by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

My True Love Gave To Me

Story

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favourite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cosy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Opinion

This was one of those cases of “expectations too high”. Because of that, I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed by this book – after all the buzz it had gotten I was expecting most, if not all of the short stories to be nothing short of brilliant, and some were, unfortunately, far from it.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this collection because, overall, I did. Often, though, that was more because of the Christmas atmosphere the tales held than from the actual stories themselves. The one I least anticipated liking, though, the final one, I absolutely LOVED. Another unexpected bonus, for me, turned out to be the historical element of these stories. Where I was expecting contemporary fluff, mainly because it was Stephanie Perkins who put these stories together, I got a very different kind of atmosphere. Slightly magical, never quite what you expect, but all together?
Overall I would recommend it, but if you keep your expectations low, you’ll find it much easier to like than I did, probably 🙂

Rating: 2.5/5 (Goodreads)

The Christmas Heirloom*

Story

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.
In Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.
In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.
In Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

Opinion

As might have become clear from my reviews of Kate Perry’s series’? I love it when several books are connected through the same environment or the same characters. Thanks to The Christmas Heirloom, I can now add “connected through the same object” to that list.
In this collection of four Christmas short stories, four different women are gifted with a brooch that is said to bring it’s owner or wearer true love. From England to the USA, from the late 18th century all the way to the modern day… Time and again, this brooch works its magic in the most wonderful way.
Each of these stories features a double POV, offering both the woman in question and this chosen “true love” a voice. Not only are these stories incredibly well-written, they offer such a lovely view on Christmas in all its aspects… I found myself counting down until I could get back to reading it…
For all of the stories, the characters have certainly encountered their fair bit of grief and sadness, which just makes the happy endings these stories offer you that much more beautiful. Absolutely the perfect read for the Christmas-loving historic novel-reader!

Rating: 4/5 (Goodreads)

Christmas Stitches: An Historical Romance Collection*

Story

3 Talented Seamstresses, 3 Christmas Romances
Return to Christmases of yesteryear with three seamstresses who use their talents to succeed in the late 1800s. But can love also be stitched into their lives?
A SEAMLESS LOVE by Judith Miller
1888 – Pullman, Illinois
Hannah Cushman possesses a special talent for embroidered fancywork and design which secures her a position in the Dressmaking and Millinery Shop in the Pullman Arcade near Chicago where she encounters childhood friend Daniel Price. Daniel is disappointed to learn Hannah is being courted by a detective with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. With two men vying for her attention, will Hannah seek God’s direction or ignore the warning signs He sets before her?
MENDED HEARTS by Stephanie Grace Whitson
1890 – Nebraska
Rachel Ellsworth has always been encouraged to pursue her passion for art. She looks forward to taking the Grand Tour on her honeymoon and experiencing the great museums of Europe. But when tragedy strikes, Rachel’s plans are put on hold and she is forced to stay with two maiden aunts in a small Nebraska town where the most exciting things that ever happen are quilting bees and the county fair. Rachel expects her stay in Lost Creek to be temporary–until a letter from home changes everything. How can a budding artist who loves the big city expect to find happiness in the middle of nowhere?
PIN’S PROMISE by Nancy Moser
1906 – Summerfield, England
Penelope (Pin) Billings and Jonathan Evers have loved each other since they were children, promising to one day get officially engaged. Both have distinct talents: Pin for sewing dresses and teaching others to sew and Jonathan—a doctor right out of school—in helping the people of the village. As adulthood nears and the time to fulfill their promise seems right, a tragic event pulls them apart, making both question their future. Will they discover they are stronger together than apart?

Opinion

Reading historical fiction, I feel, is usually a bit of a hit or miss. Either the tone gets everything just right, or it just feels like something’s missing. This collection, luckily, falls squarely in the “hit”-section. From the overarching theme of the “stitches” to the way these love stories all developed in such a vastly different way? I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed myself this much seeing a historical world unfold.
Where A Seamless Love truly opened my eyes to the world of factory-towns in the late 19th century, Pin’s Promise had me at the verge of tears. Mended Hearts, finally, was built just beautifully from Rachel’s departure to the Christmas-conclusion. All these stories, in fact, managed to get that feeling of Christmas just right.
I will say that the descriptions on Goodreads seem to be quite (vastly?) different from the stories as they were in the eBook, but, you know… That actually just meant I went in knowing less about the stories before I started reading them. And honestly? I would advise you to do the same.
The three stories in Christmas Stitches breathe such an other-century sense of calm and joy at Christmas… I think reading without any idea of exactly what is going to happen, is probably the best way to go. And the best way, as well, to leave you feeling absolutely fuzzy as well!

Rating: 4/5 (Goodreads)

Basically, if you’re in need of a cosy, historical holiday story collection? These are a great place to start. Especially The Christmas Heirloom. I loved that one. Be sure to let me know below if you know of any other historical holiday stories that you think I might like – apparently, they’re my thing now! And of course: feel free to check out the rest of my Christmas-posts, or this year’s blogmas!

-Saar