November is my favorite time of year to sit down with an eggnog and enjoy a short, light read. It's cold outside, and ski resorts haven't yet opened. With Christmas preparations in the making, books like TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL are just the kind to put you in the mood for the holidays and give you some great gift ideas.
The couple-to-be of this love story are a young woman and man in their late 20s or early 30s, both of whom have given up on finding a mate. A beautiful devout Christian, Cora Crowder is also a loner who has moved far away from her troublesome, impious family. She reveals little about them except to dwell on the bad things and has been secretive and embarrassed about her roots, choosing to leave her family behind for good. Focusing on remaining steady in her own resolutions to God, Cora has been greatly changed by her faith and time spent with a Christian family she stayed with during college. Since then, she has become a hard-working citizen whose life is devoted solely to her church, her cat Skippy, and the company where she has worked for years.
Simon Derrick is very devoted to his church, too, and works in the same office as Cora does (albeit in upper management). The women at the office all call him "serious Simon" behind his back, and none have shown any inclination to get to know him as a friend or otherwise. Simon is Cora's "boss's boss," and his family situation is an interesting one. No one at work even knows if he's married.
As the holidays approach, and Cora sets off to find her spirit, she shops on a street she's never been down before and runs into Simon in a quaint little bookstore. In this fascinating little place called Warner, Werner, and Witzbotterdad’s, Cora recognizes Simon and witnesses a new spark between them. Both suppress their private inclinations, however, rationalizing that neither is the type the other would choose. The clever, aging booksellers of the odd little bookstore clearly have a better view of the big picture, though. As Cora and Simon purchase a book, they each discover inside the front cover a ticket to a dance called "The Annual Christmas Ball of Sage Street."
TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL is for those who see a wistful appeal in escaping to much simpler times. The shops on Sage Street are the epitome of everything that is old-fashioned, where rules of etiquette are counted on and followed without question, and courtships adhere to a strict code of honor. Togetherness is emphasized as the most important aspect of the holidays, and we are reminded of the joy in centering ourselves in our reverence and remembrance of Christ. Readers witness the inevitable risk and effort put forth when a couple is brought together and see that God works in some mysterious ways.
The book doesn't devote much effort toward answering difficult questions such as the problems between Cora and her family, and no reasonable solutions are offered on navigating relationships between those with differing values and religions. But that's not what this book is about; it's simply a fun Christmas novella that offers escape in a love story and focuses on honorable ideals such as caring for others.
Reviewed by Melanie Smith on October 5, 2010