As the song goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around the Goshorn household. Holly, lights, and the scent of pine and cinnamon signal that Christmas is near. The lighted manger scene adorns my yard, snowmen and angels abound in my family room, our tree is up with lights and red bead garland, and Christmas music fills the background whether at home or in the car. We have our Christmas movies out and have already viewed a few of our favorites. What’s missing besides the ornaments we still need to hang on the branches of our tree?
Snuggling up with a good book and a cup of Earl Grey tea (my personal favorite) in front of a crackling fire.
Here’s a list of excellent historical fiction, by classic and contemporary authors, to give you that warm and cozy Christmas-is-around-the-corner feeling. Not sure how you’ll squeeze in a book right now? No worries. There is a nice selection of short stories and novellas as well as novels for you to choose from.
I’ve made it easy for you to purchase the book for yourself or as a gift. Just click on the cover to go to amazon. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with any of these Christmas selections.
The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry— This classic short story of sacrificial giving is a Christmas must read as Henry’s characters, Della and Jim, sell their most treasured possessions to give a gift they know the other will love.
The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Tale, Philip Van Doren Stern— I have not read this story yet. In fact, I only discovered it doing research for this blog post, but I’ve already purchased it on my Kindle! This heart-warming short story, which came to Stern in a dream, became the basis for the classic Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life. Unable at first to find a publisher for his evocative tale about a man named George Pratt who ponders suicide until he receives an opportunity to see what the world would be like without him, Stern ultimately published the story in a small pamphlet and sent it out as his 1943 Christmas card. One of those 200 cards found its way into the hands of Frank Capra, who shared it with Jimmy Stewart, and the film that resulted became the holiday tradition we cherish today.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens–Before you roll your eyes because you’ve seen the movie every year, pause and consider reading this classic first published in October 1843. While I love a good film, there is nothing like reading a classic. Charles Dickens, heavily in debt and obligated to his publisher, began work on a book to help supplement his family’s meager income. That volume, A Christmas Carol is the imaginative and entertaining tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warmhearted, and caring human being. Written by one of England’s greatest and most popular novelists, A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.
A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote–First published in 1956, this much sought-after autobiographical recollection of Truman Capote’s rural Alabama boyhood in the 1930’s has become a modern-day classic. Seven-year-old Buddy inaugurates the Christmas season by crying out to his cousin, Miss Sook Falk: “It’s fruitcake weather!” Thus begins an unforgettable portrait of an odd but enduring friendship between two innocent souls–one young and one old–and the memories they share of beloved holiday rituals.
The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Andersen— First published in 1845, this classic story tells the tale of a poor child who tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and is barefoot having lost her shoes. The girl lights the matches to warm herself. Seeing a shooting star, she remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. After running out of matches the child dies, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the child dead in the nook, frozen with a smile on her face, and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she and her grandmother are now celebrating the New Year in Heaven.
Contemporary Historical Fiction
A Light in the Window, Julie Lessman— This novel should come with a warning! Danger, you will get sucked into the entire O’Connor Family Saga! This beautifully told story follows Marceline Murphy in 1890s Boston. While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen, A Light in the Window, Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to the two men who are pursuing her, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the “light in the window,” meaning the message of Christ in his heart.
The Fruitcake Challenge, Carrie Fancett Pagels— This fun sweet romance novella is the first installment of Carrie’s Christy Family Lumberjack Series and was a Selah awarad finalist. The title grabbed me right away and Carrie’s storytelling won’t disappoint. When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. And she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on!
I Heard the Bells, Angela K. Couch— This heart warming short story was inspired by the Christmas carol of the same name and was the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers Virginia chapter’s Short Story Contest winner. Angela is beautiful storyteller. Don’t miss this one! Three years ago, Gabriel Morgan left his home in Virginia to fight for the Union Army, despite his family and fiancee’s loyalties to the South. Now, with battle fresh in his mind, and the Civil War still raging, he chances a quick trip home with one prayer… to make peace this Christmas.
Although I haven’t read them yet, these books sound so good I had to include them because they are on my TBR pile!
Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Hearne, Julie Lessman, & Anna Schmidt–Four historical romances featuring cowboys, small towns and the wide open range. These authors ALWAYS leave you wanting more!
The Widow’s Captive, Lucette Nel–You won’t want to miss this author’s debut novella. On the run with two small children and a third due within weeks, Adeline Spencer fears the approaching blizzard will seal their fate. An abandoned cabin is an answer to her prayers. She hopes it will shield them from both the storm and the enraged brother-in-law hot on her tail. But when a stranger knocks at the door, she is convinced they have been found by one of Ward’s lackeys.Blamed for the death of his friend, Sheriff Jonah Hale is determined to prove himself worthy of his badge, even if it means riding into a blizzard to check on a crazy miner. When Jonah reaches the cabin, he’s caught off guard by a pretty and very pregnant young woman wielding a skillet. Bound to a chair while the storm rages, and as Christmas settles in around them, he must find a way to earn Adeline’s trust…and perhaps her heart.
Hang Your Heart on Christmas, Heather Blanton–I’ve enjoyed all of Heather’s other novels and look forward to hours of entertainment form this book as well. As punishment for a botched arrest, U.S. Marshal “Dent” Hernandez is temporarily remanded to the quiet little town of Evergreen, Wyoming. Not only does his hometown hold some bad memories, but he is champing at the bit to go after vicious killers, not waste his time scolding candy thieves. And he most certainly should not be escorting the very pretty, but jittery, schoolteacher around. What is she so afraid of? Turns out, a lot of folks are keeping secrets in Evergreen. When the bank is robbed and Dent has to do what he does best, choices will be made, lies will be exposed, and hearts will break. Can Christmas bring love and healing to Evergreen? To Dent?
Where Treetops Glisten–Three Stores of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II, Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam and Sarah Sundin–Although I haven’t read this novella collection, these authors don’t disappoint! I’m looking forward to this World War II era collection of stories. Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
The Substitute Bride, Carrie Fancett Pagels–Carrie’s books always make my TBR pile and this Christmas novella sounds enchanting. The Substitute Bride is part of the O’ Little Town of Christmas novella collection and won Carrie a much coveted spot as a Maggie award finalist. A Christmas Carol meets It’s A Wonderful Life A letter for Sonja’s deceased friend arrives at the post office in Michigan, and with it a proposal. With her father threatening to kick her out of his home, Sonja impulsively responds, offering to travel west to be a substitute bride. At the same time, Louis’s railroad promotion sends him back to Michigan, the one place on earth he’d hoped to never return—where Christmas past was full of pain. A mysterious stranger leaves him marked copies of “A Christmas Carol” as he considers romancing Sonja in Christmas present. Will Louis discern the best choices for Christmas future? Does it include the Poor House, again? Even so—will God bring healing and love to him this year?
Tidings of Peace, Tracie Peterson—Bestselling author Tracie Peterson presents four Christmas love stories from World War II. Moving from the homefront, to the front line, to the South Pacific, each story in Tidings of Peace features brave men and women trying to find meaning–and love–during the uncertainties of war. All the danger, difficulties, sadness, and hope experienced on both sides of the ocean is captured in these timeless novellas. the unique Christmas settings will put you in the spirit of the season, showing the miracles and mercy so often found during this time of celebrating Jesus’ birth.
Just in case I haven’t given you enough choices, here are some wonderful historical romance Christmas novella collections. Although I haven’t read these either yet, they come highly recommended and I plan to read as many as possible!
What is your favorite book that turns your heart toward Christmas?