I have really come to enjoy reading a set of holiday books in December to get me in the Christmas spirit and provide a nice change of pace.
After rereading Fannie Flagg's marvelous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe this summer, I searched for other books she had written and discovered A Redbird Christmas, which I promptly put on my December must-read list.
I ended up listening to the author read her work and found it to be an utterly delightful experience. Flagg has a lovely soft southern drawl that is perfect for the small town Alabama setting. The story itself was sweet, touching, and unexpected. I felt a few times that Flagg had written herself into a corner and was impressed with how she wriggled out and salvaged her plot.
Here's the Amazon synopsis:
Oswald T. Campbell, aged fifty-two, down-and-out in a Chicago winter, is given only months to live unless he moves South. He finds himself in the small town of Lost River, Alabama, where the residents are friendly if feud-prone and eccentric to a fault. One of them, Roy, keeps a red cardinal, a once wounded bird called Jack. Patsy, a sad, sweet little kid with a crippled leg, from the trailer park up in the woods, takes to dropping by the store - and falls in love with Jack. Flagg takes us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the lives and hearts of an engaging crew of misfits, fixers and ordinary good-hearted folk, set against the vivid natural backdrop of a mellow Alabama winter, along the riverside where birds and fish abound. Her enchanting story culminates at Christmastide with surprises and a magical 'redbird' moment.I loved the characters--especially sisters Frances and Mildred, but also Betty Kitchen, Oswald's landlady in Lost River, and lovely, sad Roy, who owns the local store. As a bird-watcher, I especially liked the cardinal (aka redbird) Jack, whose plight is central to the plot and theme of friendships that defy all odds. And, of course, I loved that Oswald was able to find purpose in his life once he started learning about the world around him, including all those birds of Alabama.
Definitely a life-affirming, warm, wonderful story for the holidays.