In the prologue of A CAROL FOR CHRISTMAS, Carol and her husband Jonathan are celebrating eight months of marriage. But a phone call from Jonathan’s father disrupts their afternoon together. Jonathan has to return to the family business, Burke Department Store, in order to handle another crisis. He forgot though that he had leaned Carol’s guitar against the car bumper. So as he’s backing out from the driveway, there is a loud crunch. Jonathan unintentionally crushes his wife’s most precious possession.
Carol and Jonathan meet as freshmen at the University of Colorado. After a few months in a whirlwind relationship and against the wishes of their parents, the couple decide to quit school and get married. Carol, a gifted music student, and Jonathan, a business major, return to Jonathan’s home in Boise, Idaho, where he begins working as a manager at Burke Department Store instead of sticking to his original plan of graduating from college and starting out as a junior partner. This decision means spending long hours working at the store and time apart from Carol, which puts a strain on their relationship.
One afternoon Carol’s mother-in-law calls Carol and invites her to sing backup vocals at a Christmas benefit with country singer Travis Thompson. The idea of singing with such a well-known artist is exciting and renews her interest in music. She also is responsible for trying out and selecting two additional backup singers. Travis is impressed with Carol’s talents and takes the rare step of giving her the name and business card of his agent and encouraging her to contact him.
While Carol is gaining confidence in her musical abilities, her relationship with Jonathan continues to struggle. Jonathan’s father, Arlen, has high expectations for his son and the family business. When father and son take a business trip together to visit another store, Jonathan fishtails in the snow and Arlen asks him where he learned to drive. Jonathan responds, “Driver’s ed. West Junior High, summer of 1964. Perfect score on the exam.” At first Arlen is silent, but then he laughs. Jonathan understands how rare it is to hear any sounds of joy from his father. The business and work consume the old man, and Jonathan is determined not to have the same experience with Carol.
A strong story and depth of characters combine with a solid spiritual message from Robin Lee Hatcher. Readers can celebrate the love of Christmas with this novella, a perfect way to get into the spirit of the holidays.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on November 13, 2011