As far as I could remember, I’d never read a Christmas story at Christmastime (or anytime), other than the story of Christ’s birth—until this one.
Perhaps it was because I didn’t grow up having Christmas stories read to me. Or maybe I tried reading one myself and couldn’t take it. Too sappy. Somebody once again “saves” Christmas (yawn). Or it was otherwise redundant. Who knows? Someday I would read one, I promised myself—when the right story came along.
So, what made me consider reading Tamera Lynn Kraft’s novella, A Christmas Promise? For one thing: novella, rather than full-length novel. Surely I could make time for a novella, even at this busy time of year. I was curious about current novellas in general, which were gaining popularity. But I hadn’t suddenly warmed up to Christmas stories. Tamera’s just sort of fell into my lap.
Then I noticed from its description that it had a special quality I look for in any story. It would teach me something totally new. About history–my favorite subject, no less.
This was a story that takes place in a pioneer setting, but pre-Revolutionary, right before the American Revolution. In Ohio. That was different.
The subtitle of A Christmas Promise is “A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773.” The main characters, John and Anna Brunner, are missionaries for a religion I wasn’t familiar with. I was interested. They are in Ohio to convert a tribe of Native Americans I never heard of before. Even better. I started reading.
I was fascinated by some of the Brunner family’s Moravian customs, including building a Christmas tree from a pyramid-shaped frame filled with branches, instead of chopping down a live tree. I found myself wishing for additional information about the Moravian religion worked into the story in the beginning, but that didn’t prevent me from understanding and appreciating the characters or the plot. I took a short break to learn more about the Moravian church on the Internet.
The Brunners and their children left Pennsylvania for Ohio to share the Gospel with the Lenape tribe, and that action is central to both their internal and external conflicts. I won’t spoil your enjoyment of this touching story by giving further details about A Christmas Promise, but I longed for more facts about the Lenape (which I will research at a later time). History of the natives in both North and South America has always held a special attraction for me. However, if this novella had contained enough information about both the Moravians and the Lenape to completely satisfy me, I think it would have ceased to qualify as a novella.
Then I probably would’ve convinced myself that I was too busy to read it at all this Christmas. Think of what I would’ve missed.
(Plus, I’m now primed for a Christmas novel.)
Note: The author of A Christmas Promise, Tamera Lynn Kraft, is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry. You can contact Tamera online at Word Sharpeners Blog: http://tameralynnkraft.com or her Website: http://tameralynnkraft.net
Do novellas appeal to you more than full-length novels at Christmas—or any other time? Why? If you plan to read this one, what attracted you to it?
I too am curious about the rising interest in novellas. I have to admit I love getting “into” and even attached to a story’s characters and fear this might not happen with a shorter story. BUT the busyness of the season does make a shorter story appealing.
I too like when a story introduces me to something that piques my curiosity enough that I research further. Will have to check this story out!
Thanks for commenting, Beth. I’ve recently come across other Christmas novella titles with captivating historical content in the story lines. Haven’t gotten around to reading them though. Finding “A Round Tuit” is particularly difficult at Christmas.
I’m not much of a fan of short stories or novellas. If I really like the characters and story world, it’s more like a tease than a snack. The one exception is when the shorter stories tie back into a series I enjoy. RL Copple and Kat Hackenbach have done this with their series and I think that’s a great idea. Short stories that tie into longer works of fiction can whet your appetite for the real thing…
I loved Kat’s short stories. I haven’t read RL Copple.
Hi, Lisa. I agree that every reader at some point settles on a fiction story length that suits her. In my case, if a novel is more than 400 pages, I usually don’t even consider it. Too many long novels have bored me in the middle, where they should have been cut by a good editor.
I just read Carla Rossi’s Nick and Holly Save [Wreck] Christmas. It’s an adorable YA novella. The story had a tight plot and fun characters. A perfect little add-on for a teen who is getting an e-reader for Christmas.
Actually, the Nick and Holly novella is one that sounded good, especially for kids. There are better “saving Christmas” stories out there now than when I was young, I think.
I agree with Lisa – I rarely read novellas unless it relates to characters I already know & love. I usually don’t enjoy them as much as a full novel as I always feel like they lack in content (character-development and plot). I have read at least two Christmas themed novella’s though. They were ok – cute but too short. One of them I accidentally skipped 2 chapters and didn’t even notice until after I’d finished the book – I didn’t take that as a good sign. Especially when I went back and read them to see what I’d missed – and it was a spoilery chapter that would have killed the mystery. I think it was better the way I read it! 😉
This book, however, sounds very interesting. I haven’t heard of Moravians or the Lenape.
Hello, Sparksofember. This is fabulous feedback for writers of novellas. Thanks for commenting!
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