During World War II, Italian widow Anna sends cherished glass Christmas ornaments to her cousin for safekeeping. When Filomena emigrates to America, the decorations are passed down through the family. Now 40 years later, the ornaments and their owners are summoned together by the 84-year-old great-grandmother. But will it be a sparkling reunion or a shattering revelation? 256 pages, hardcover from Guideposts.
There were some good things about this story and some that took away from it. For one, the author had a strong voice when she was showing you the relationships between characters. I enjoyed the conflict and found that to be realistic. The same goes for how she showed the decades of grudges and the matriach's desire to see her family connections restored. On the negative side there were a few too many characters whose point of view you had to be in and a lot of that was written in a telling format because there was not enough time to really show the characters developing. When the author did show the relationships and the conflict the book was compelling. When she told their invidual backgrounds it lost some of it's appeal. Also, the ending wasn't quite what I'd hoped. But overall I felt like it was a decent Christmas read. I didn't get any warm fuzzies, though. This story was uniquely done and you have to read it to see what I mean.
The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti is a generational tale of family dysfunction and the power of Christmas. At the beginning of World War II in Italy, Anna regretfully packs away her family's collection of glass Christmas ornaments that have been passed from generation to generation. Afraid that they will be destroyed in the war, she sends them to her cousin Filomena in the hope that the collection will never be separated. Filomena takes the set to the United States with her husband and twin daughters and over the course of 55 years distributes the ornaments to people who touch their lives. Now she's over eighty and still interfering in her family's lives, blackmailing them together again for a Christmas meal before she'll move to a nursing home. Her meddling has caused a rift between the twins so great they haven't spoken in ten years. Alborghetti has a strong voice for portraying family dysfunction and pain. Every part of this family is facing trouble and heartache, but as Filomena and the Christmas Glass pull them together, wounds are healed. Those expecting a stereotypical saccharine-filled, heart-warming Christmas story will be disappointed. This story is far richer and deeper. It's a reminder that no matter how we struggle throughout the year, Christmas is a time that reminds us of the hope that Christ brought into the world through his birth.
The Christmas Glass begins in 1940 with Anna, an Italian widow, sheltering a few Jewish children at her orphanage. Knowing the danger, Anna reminisces about her family's precious "Christmas glass," 12 beautiful hand-blown ornaments, as she wraps each piece to send to a cousin for safekeeping during the war.Part I, above, was my favorite part of the book, only about 17 pages.Part II, starting on page 23, begins in America in the year 2000. Ahh, if you've read any of my book reviews you know contemporary settings are my least favorite! I would much rather have heard more about Anna or perhaps her cousin Filomena's immigration to America with the precious "Christmas glass" after the war.Instead, the year 2000 brought with it too much angst and worldliness for me. While it is true that no one is perfect and we all have problems, Filomena's family is certainly more than dysfunctional, and I felt tense reading about each character.Filomena has distributed each piece of the once treasured Christmas glass (which was never to be separated) to family and friends throughout the years. Now, nearing her final Christmas (or is it?), she manipulates them all to Connecticut, hoping to heal and restore some relationships.Honestly, it was like when you hear someone's salvation testimony and all they do is talk about their former life and all the sin they were in. They spend 98.9% on their awful life and only 1.1% on the Lord. The characters and relationships were so crazy, and often hateful, that I winced as I read.I really loved the idea behind the book...but, it didn't take the direction I was hoping for.