Thursday, December 04, 2014
The Gift of Christmas, by Debbie Macomber
Prior to December I picked out The Gift of Christmas as my personal Christmas read. I have read two others by Debbie Macomber which I liked and so I wanted to try another. While I liked the others, this one tried my patience. Remember how I said that my pain tolerance is rather high when it comes to Christmas books? I'm almost delighted to tell you that apparently there is a limit to what can be endured. I cannot abide this book. It made me to feel that I'd just as soon avoid her books in the future.
The Gift of Christmas tells the story of Ashley Robbins, a twenty-something year old English teacher who has been in love with her mother's employer, Cooper Masters, since she was 16 years old. (Her mother is Masters' cook and housekeeper.) Cooper is so far out of her reach though that she doesn't believe that she has a chance in the world at ever marrying him. He is a wealthy business man, roughly 40 years old, and travels in completely different circles. Yet, they have a common bond of a godson and this gives them a distance sort of relationship. The book is supposed to describe a relational tension between the two and leave you feeling breathless over whether or not they will or will not ultimately "get together." However, it's so predictable you know it's going to happen.
Aside from being predictable, it is also completely ridiculous. To say that there is character development in this story would be laughable. From page two Cooper Masters is sighing because he wants to kiss her and yet is cold and distant because he feels the age gap. He kisses her anyway. From there the book is filled with the two of them misunderstanding each other repeatedly (to the point where you want to knock their heads together) and kissing to make up. The cycle is this: frustration, sighing, kissing, frustration, sighing, kissing, etc.. Nothing ever changes but the book ends on a happy kissing note. So I guess that's ...goodish. Except! I have no idea what Macomber's personal belief system is but she writes Ashley up to be a Christian. Ashley is so Christian that Macomber notes that she does Christian workout DVDs in her home. She carries a Bible in her purse which she whips out from time to time. She goes to church and hugs babies. And, to be very, very safely righteous, she only works out with Christian exercise DVDs.
Problem: Cooper Masters is not a Christian. He is just not sure about this "God thing." But this does not prevent Ashley from pursuing a sighing, kissing - yet frustrated! - relationship with him in hopes that he will fall desperately in love with her. This, in spite of the fact that she had a previous boyfriend who was not a Christian who she had felt compelled to break up with because she knew that this other guy's lack of faith was problematic. She suffers no hesitations about Cooper Masters though, because he is handsome and he sighs a lot. The author of her fate, (referring to Macomber, of course), kindly makes Masters a Christian in the end, thus solving any faith problems. And because I disliked this book so much so as to not to care about offering you spoilers, he even proposes to her by using a Bible. Because it's just that good.
When I finished this book, not only did my ear hurt but so did my head. Christmas read fail. Debbie Macomber is struck from my list.
But here's the more embarrassing part (aside from the fact that I actually read this): I closed the book annoyed and discovered to my great horror that it was published by Harlequin! I was so embarrassed I almost fainted. (Except that I didn't faint. I just kicked myself internally really hard.)
I purchased this book for myself (which is why I felt compelled to read on to the end). I'm horrified that I didn't note the publisher this time around. Pray, don't make the same mistake! Believe me when I say it's not worth your valuable reading time (or reading money). (I'm grateful that it only took 1.5 hours to read or else I would be even more disgruntled with myself than I currently am.) Goodbye, Macomber. I think I've gotten out of your books all that I care to. (Strongly worded? Yes.)