In Stories for the 12 Days of Christmas, Linda Mansfield offers up a baker's dozen of short stories, and admits she added the thirteenth because she likes to "give people more than they expect, at Christmas and otherwise."
Each of her stories is limited to around 2000 words, that's an average of six or seven pages, intentionally geared for a quick holiday read. These are not children's stories but the language is plainspoken, easy to anticipate, and that makes the book perfect for a busy schedule. It's a little like grabbing a cookie or two at a time. There is a sweetness to these stories.
And each cookie on the plate has a message. This is a book for reading when you need a boost of Christmas spirit, but only have a few minutes to remind yourself why you are enduring the holiday stress. The characters are not exotic and the situations are familiar—Mansfield wanted to "make them as realistic as possible." Some of the stories use humor; some are almost casually tragic. But all are about love.
Mansfield is not writing little romantic vignettes. She is imagining ordinary people whose lives are changed by choosing love, among them a mother who sacrifices to give her child a gift and finds that she has given him the ability to do the same, a man who has hit bottom but finds a path upward in saving the life of a kitten, a young woman who heals her sadness when she extends herself to others, and a trucker who is away from home and has church at a picnic table.
The text and typography could be more elegant, but the cover art exemplifies what Mansfield pictured for her readers, people with their feet up in front of a roaring fire and a twinkling tree, maybe even "a plate of cookies and a mug of hot cocoa or mulled wine on the end table beside you." She is offering you a Christmas break, manageable moments of connection, so that you come away refreshed and ready for more. And maybe with a little sugar high to keep you going.
Stories for the 12 Days of Christmas is a small book of loving reminders to be better, do better, and change your life, by choosing love. It's worth noting that it could be a gift you give to others, as well as to yourself.
Based in Indianapolis, Linda Mansfield is a reporter and public relations representative, as well as an author. She blogs at LindaMansfieldsBlog on WordPress.com and owns Restart Communications, a motorsports PR firm. Learn more about Linda on her website.
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