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Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn


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Finding Father Christmas

by Robin Jones Gunn

Reviewed by Cheryl Russell

"...a quick but enjoyable read on a wintry afternoon."

Will this Christmas answer Miranda’s childhood question?

Miranda Carson’s childhood was anything but normal. She lived a nomadic life with her actress mother, traveling up and down the West Coast, living out of suitcases and motel rooms. Her father was never mentioned.

Now twenty-one, she’s left her home in San Francisco to travel to England. In her possession is an old photograph of a young boy screaming in fear as he sits on Santa’s lap. The photo is the only clue she has to her unknown father. Even though the image is faded, the studio’s name is still legible on the back-Carlton Photography Studio, Bexley Lane, Carlton Heath.

On Christmas Eve, she finds herself in the doorway of the Tea Cozy, a small establishment in Carlton Heath. The brutal winds of an impending winter storm propel her into the cheery and warm room. She almost collides with a kilt-wearing older man heading out the door. After a short conversation he introduces himself as Christmas Present and then leaves Miranda standing alone and somewhat perplexed.

Before she can decide her next move, a woman dressed in a red formal gown descends the stairway. A sparkling necklace with matching earrings completes her ensemble. Even though it’s obvious she is dressed for an evening out, she fetches Miranda some tea and scones and engages her in conversation. Miranda shows her the photo with the address of the local photography studio stamped on the back. The woman, named Katherine, has no knowledge of the studio. But since she has only lived in the village for a few years, she encourages Miranda to stay in the town and ask some of the other residents what they may know.

Most of the residents will be at the village’s annual Christmas pageant-Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol-where Katherine is headed. She invites Miranda to accompany her and meet some of the older citizens of the town. Miranda declines, wanting to get back to London. But after some inner struggle, she decides that for her own peace of mind, she needs to pursue this single clue to her father’s identity as far as it will take her. It’s a decision that alters not just her future, but that of the English family that offers her refuge during the snowstorm.

Finding Father Christmas is the story of a young woman’s search for belonging and the father she never knew. She longs for a family to call her own and begins to find it with the Whitcombes, the family that has given her refuge. But as small clues begin to add up, she faces a tough decision. Should she reveal to them what she’s discovered or carry unspoken suspicions back with her to San Francisco and her lonely, insignificant life? Either choice guarantees someone will feel pain this Christmas season. At only a little over 160 pages, Finding Father Christmas is a quick but enjoyable read on a wintry afternoon.

Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online. She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers. She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen Worlds or at her website.