Magic Snow Globe + 3 Women = 3 Christmas(ish) Miracles!
Kiley's year is looking down. She lost her job and her fiancee. But a trip with her girlfriends, Allison and Suzanne, into a shop leads to the purchase of a mystical snow globe--one that promises miracles for ALL the ladies.
I don't read much chick lit (I am guessing that's what this would be categorized as, it's so hard to tell with some books these days), but I just wanted a cozy little book to read to put me in the holiday spirit. That's why I picked up this cute little book.
What I didn't realize from reading the front cover was that there are actually three stories in this novella. When I heard that, I was a little wary. The book is a slim 166 pages--and it's supposed to be shared by the three ladies? Could Roberts manage this? Not an easy question to answer, as you will see...
Sheila Roberts is a good writer. I enjoyed her prose immensely, and she was more than capable of making me sympathetic to her characters, particularly Suzanne, even given the short amount of time she had. I think it's easy for an author to win a reader over with thousands of pages, but to do so when you only have 166? That is talent. I also liked how well she painted her surroundings (it's obvious she knows what she is describing) and there was quite a charm to the book.
The three stories of the women are woven together and bound at the end. However, they are very short and, because of time issues, many events smart of hokey coincidences (Craig needs a website designer, which happens to be Kiley's speciality) or magical moments of inspiration (Suzanne's change happens literally overnight, Allison's "miracle" happens within the last 5 pages of the book). I know this is a short story, that this snow globe is magic, that this is a cute, cozy novel not a long treatise against the commercialization of Christmas or whatever but I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at how quickly everything gets wrapped up. Also, I wasn't fond of how the narrative started with Kylie's point of view and randomly passed to Suzanne, who randomly passed it off to Allison. Perhaps separate sections would have been better, or weaving the three ladies together.
Kiley's story was okay. I liked her character--she was a fun young woman, unemployed and heart broken. Not only that, but she can't even take comfort in her family because her fiancee broke up with her to be with her sister! Kiley handled the situation pretty good and realistically (being nasty to her sister, having her cousins gang up on her ex, etc.), though I still found her almost too venomous at times and it just felt that people sided too quickly with her (Mary Sue much?). Her romance with Craig was cute but completely unrealistic. Sure, I loved how they met (at a toy store? Awesome), but it was pretty much a fact that after the first date they would get married. Craig was too perfect--Kiley mentions how much they have in common, how caring and understanding he is, how excellent with his mother he is--basically, everything every woman believes her Mr. Perfect to be, absolutely no flaws whatsoever (okay, yeah, so Kiley could be ignoring it because she's in love). Honestly, I don't look forward to what happens a year from now, after they are married, when Kiley learns he has bad habits, not much different than her ex, Jeremy.
Suzanne's story struck me the most. I totally sympathized with her character, so much that I got very, very angry at the other characters she interacted with who didn't understand her. Suzanne is trying to have a nice house...why is that so hard to understand! Why does her husband undermine her not wanting a dog? Doesn't he realize that she would get stuck taking care of it? Why doesn't her mother respect her desire to keep her things clean? My mom certainly doesn't come over to my place and start changing things! While I do understand Suzanne's expectations were unrealistic (couldn't they have a messy family room or loft or something?), could no one else sacrifice their wants for her? To keep the house nice like she wanted? To understand her turmoil between work and home? At the very end, she makes all the changes, getting the dog for her daughter (which I feel was a bad move, showing that the daughter can walk all over her parents and get anything), getting pregnant (this really felt awkward--babies don't make things all happy and magical; if she thought she had a busy life before the dog and the baby, watch out!), and no one else has to sacrifice. Even the way she changes (through a dream like Scrooge's) is hokey. But I will admit, one of the most poignant parts is when her daughter, Bryn, goes off laughing with Suzanne's Mom, and Suzanne can't think of Bryn ever acting that way with her. And yes, I've lambasted the death out of her story, but I think it is partially a tribute to Roberts, who wrote Suzanne so well that I became her cheerleader, wanting her family to get what I understood.
As for Allison's story, it's a blink and you'll miss it. Allison seems to be a cool character, but she barely has any page time. While Kiley gets the first 80 pages, and Suzanne the next 60, Allison is left with a slim 30 pages of her story. We meet her crazy family, her lack of a Christmas miracle, and then BOOM! She gets a tacked-on happy ending, and the book ends a page later.
I think this could have been a brilliant story had Roberts focused on one of the three side stories and fleshed it out. You could then get rid of the hokey coincidences, the break-neck romance, the overnight revelations, the tacked-on happy endings, and the general sense of rush you get from reading the book.
Other things I wasn't fond of were the magical snow globe (I got the impression from the book cover that it was not literally magic, but more like an inspiration) and the immense amount of time talking about food (you are making me hungry!!) and clothing.
Overall, the book was pretty much what I wanted. I say "pretty much" because while it was cute and fluffy, I still didn't feel much of the holiday charm or pure joy I was expecting to get. I don't know if I'll ever read this again, but I think I'm going to pass along the book to my mom.
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