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The Christmas Pearl

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  4,106 Ratings  ·  436 Reviews
Theodora is the matriarch of a family that, in her opinion, has grown into a bunch of truculent knuckleheads. They've all come together to South Carolina to celebrate Christmas. But this Christmas looks nothing like the extravagant, homey Christmases Theodora grew up with. What happened to the days when the holiday spirit meant tables groaning with home cooked goodies, ove ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by William Morrow (first published October 23rd 2007)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
227th out of 894 books — 2,255 voters
Skipping Christmas by John GrishamA Redbird Christmas by Fannie FlaggPastels and Jingle Bells by Christine S. FeldmanThe Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton FrankHome for Christmas by Lia Fairchild
Short and Sweet Christmas Novels
4th out of 54 books — 82 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 17, 2008 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: holiday
I'm glad I discovered this lovely book about 93 year-old Theodora, her dysfunctional family, and a very magical Christmas in South Carolina. This is a story of trying to recapture the holiday traditions from her 1920's childhood. If you want to escape the holiday rat-race of our generation, put the real world aside for an afternoon, and remember anything is possible while reading "The Christmas Pearl".
Dec 24, 2008 Linda rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 08, 2009 Cheryl rated it did not like it
Ninety-three year old, Theodora has seen and lived through a lot. So when she gathers all of her children, grand children and great, grand children together for the holidays at her home, she lets them all know she will not put up with their attitudes. Though, it won’t be easy. Luckily for Theodora, she has an extra pair of hands in her friend and house keeper,
Pearl. Pearl is just as sassy as Theodora; expect that Pearl wins people over with her kindness. Whereas, Theodora just speaks her mind.
Title: The Christmas Pearl
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank (Performed by Celia Weston)
Genre: Fiction - Holiday
Challenges: 101 Books in 1001 Days Challenge, Book Around the States Challenge, Winter Reading Challenge 2010, Read and Review Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge, 100 + Reading Challenge, Audio Book Challenge 2010, Pages Read 2010, A to Z challenge,

Rating: 5/5
No. of Pages: 176 (Audio)
Published: 2007

Back Cover: Theodora is the matriarch of the family that has
Dec 26, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you cherish the Christmas traditions of your childhood? Have you kept those holiday traditions alive, or have they gone to the wayside because family values have disintegrated? What would you do to recreate the Christmases of your childhood? These are the questions and dilemma that ninety-three year old matriarch Theodora faced in The Christmas Pearl.

Ninety-three year old matriarch Theodora is pining for the Christmas traditions of her childhood. Back then, she believed anything was possible,
This was a quick read. It was not a really well written story, but I did enjoy the idea of the story. Theodora is a ninety-something matriarch of a fine southern family. She had become increasingly frustrated with her family and the frustration is growing with each day leading up to Christmas. She finds herself constantly reflecting on and missing the Christmases of her youth.

When the family cook has an emergency in her own family, she calls is a substitute to cover Christmas Eve and Christmas
Dec 13, 2013 Joanne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christmas-books

A short and heartwarming story for the season. Set in the low country of South Carolina Theodora longs for the Christmas of past when preparation, family and food took precedence. Thorough future generations her family has grown and started their own tacky holiday celebrations that frustrate the elderly women. The book starts out nostalgic on 12/23. Then Christmas Eve starts off like the old days with the arrival of her former maid angelic Pearl whose magical gifts transform the house and festiv
Feb 12, 2012 Dee-Ann rated it really liked it
I had to include this on the paranormal shelf, as there is a ghost OR angel-to-be in it.

This is a quaint story revolving around an elderly lady whose family have come home (a home where she grew up in and now lives in with her daughter and son-in-law) to spend Christmas in South Carolina. This family has become quite dysfuntional and dispirtied over time, and the old lady laments on times gone by and is sad about how her family is turning out.

Following the urgent need of the home-help to attend
Dec 18, 2013 Carol rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
An easy read, The Christmas Pearl is a traditional, nostalgic trip down the memory lane of Christmas. I liked that it made me reflect on Christmas past, present and future, what Christmas means to me as I age.

The main character Theodora, 93 yrs. old, yearns for days gone by when Christmas was home cooked meals, a beautiful creche, a real tree decorated with hand made ornaments, yummy cookies, and the belief that anything, "anything" at all was possible. Theodora is to spend this Christmas with
Amie Powell
Dec 26, 2013 Amie Powell rated it really liked it
A quick holiday read that put me into the Christmas spirit. Charming and sweet.
Book Concierge
Theodora is the elderly matriarch of an old Southern family. She is nostalgic for the Christmas celebrations of her childhood. She fondly remembers the weeks of preparation to decorate, cook, and fashion gifts, all of which just heightened the anticipation. Now her 60-something daughter and son-in-law (Barbara & Cleland) are living with her in the family's Charleston mansion. And their two grown children – Camille and George – have arrived with their families: children Andrew and Teddie, and ...more
Jun 08, 2014 Glenda rated it did not like it
Overly sentimental
Lynn Demsky
Jul 16, 2014 Lynn Demsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Still spry at ninety-three, Theodora has lived long enough to see her family grow into an insufferable bunch of truculent knuckleheads. Having finally gathered the whole bickering brood together for the holidays at her South Carolina home, the grand matriarch pines wistfully for those extravagant, homey Christmases of her childhood. How she misses the tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, the over-the-top decorations, those long, lovely fireside chats with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved h ...more
I usually never read books in one sitting. My brain works too fast (or so I'd like to think) and I get distracted often while reading any book, long or short. Surprisingly, this was one time when I read a book in one sitting and quite liked it.

Theodora is the ninety-three year old matriarch in her family, living in Charleston, South Carolina and she is thoroughly disgusted by her children's lack of attention towards her family home. It's the holidays so her grandchildren and her great-grandchil
Karen Means
Dec 08, 2014 Karen Means rated it it was amazing
Awesome book! It took me back to my childhood Christmases and all our traditions especially our decorations! Made me nostalgic for time gone by and I agree wholeheartedly with Dottie that kids just don't appreciate it anymore with all their technology. A wonderful story!!
Julie Barrett
Mar 20, 2015 Julie Barrett rated it really liked it
The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank
Love pearls and the holiday so figured this would be a good read.
Setting is weeks before Christmas and everybody chips in to decorate. The family and their family and their family will all be together under the same roof.
Liked hearing of the ghosts that show themselves during the family's stay. Pearl is there to help get it all straight.
Clean slate drinks were passed around and Theador waited for it to happen......everybody spoke what was on their mind
Sep 13, 2015 Jencey/ rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
Dorothea Benton Frank shares a holiday novella with us. This novella takes place at Christmas time in Charleston South Carolina. You are invited for a down home low country Christmas. Did you ever wish that a special person could come and help you celebrate Christmas?
Theodora’s family has been for generations in one house. The grandparents, parents and children all lived together for years. This was how Christmas in the family was celebrated until the present. Her children still live
Sep 19, 2015 Roxanne added it
Shelves: read-and-loved
It may sound cliche, but this book is DELIGHTFUL. Funny asides, miserable brats, makes you want Christmas to get here so you can fix things, too. Everyone I know is getting a copy for Christmas! (but don't tell them)...
SUMMARY: Still spry at ninety-three, Theodora has lived long enough to see her family grow into an insufferable bunch of truculent knuckleheads. Having finally gathered the whole bickering brood together for the holidays at her South Carolina home, the grand matriarch pines wistfully for those extravagant, homey Christmases of her childhood. How she misses the tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, the over-the-top decorations, those long, lovely fireside chats with Pearl, her grandmother's b ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Bob rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, but I will tell you right up front that it is not for everyone. It is, obviously, a holiday themed book but it is also very sentimental. While the characters do go through personal struggles, they work through them with the help of Pearl, the all knowing angel of a maid. This material reminds me of the kind of movies Hallmark would make back in the 80's.....when they only made 2 or 3 a year not 2 or 3 a week. It is just a good sweet story of a family conquering their worst ene ...more
Megan K. Brown
Dec 29, 2015 Megan K. Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun and light departure from some heavier reading and study I've been doing. Certainly the first half of the book was much stronger (and therefore, much more enjoyable) than the second half. The story is told by a distinctly southern woman in her 90s, recalling previous Christmases, which awakens her to the realities of her thoroughly modern southern family.
Atomic Staci
Theodora's family has all come back home to celebrate Christmas in Charleston with her, but it's not the Christmas that Theodora was hoping for. The lime green tinsel tree looks terrible, no one wants to spend any time together, and things take a downturn when Theodora's cook has to leave in a hurry when her daughter goes into labor. What Theodora isn't expecting to see if Pearl, a friend from her past. Pearl arrives with her Gullah magic and divine influence to see about setting the family stra ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Trudy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
"Everyone you love is just a thought away." Such lovely words, especially for those of us who are missing loved ones during this holiday season. (Hey, Mom, I'm thinking of you.)
A charming book full of forgiveness, restoration, and Christmas magic.
Dec 17, 2015 ShoSho marked it as dnf
Not my cuppa! Maybe if I was 93 years old I would have enjoyed it!
Dec 17, 2015 Lizfm rated it did not like it
Narrator was good, language describing past Christmases was beautiful. Book concept was horribly flawed.

The fantasy was not the 'Christmas miracle'...the fantasy is that the family's black cook and housekeeper, who had spent her life serving her employers, would need to 'earn her wings' some 80 years after her death by coming back and doing more cooking and cleaning. It never occurs to the 93 year old narrator, or the author, apparently, that Pearl would have family or loved ones of her own who
Marlene Hedger
Dec 19, 2015 Marlene Hedger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Wonderful, so detailed in descriptions I could smell and taste and see all the Christmas preparations and meals. The story was fun and something that I would like to see happen in a lot of families. I especially liked the idea that our loved ones that shaved died are only a thought away. Great book.
Dec 22, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010s
Such a lovely Christmas story told in the Deep South. Christmas is always magical but even more so when Pearl, former cook/housekeeper returns from the beyond to give 93 year old Theodora a Christmas miracle. The story was a little syrupy sweet but why not? It's Christmas!
Rebecca Lefler
The Christmas Angel

A bit kitschy and unexpected. The characters were caricatures of the typical spoiled American family who are transformed over the holiday by an Angel working on getting her wings. That is all.
Sep 19, 2016 Joni rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars, a book about Christmas and miracles. This was my book club pick for December (I am a little ahead). This book was an uplifting book and an easy read. Remember when you go to read it is fun and light and not serious. It is a slice of life, about a family that was in desperate need on a miracle to help out their hugely messed up family.
Oct 16, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun audio-book with a great narrator. It is a story about a family and how they have lost focus of what is important. When the matriarch of the family starts reminiscing about wonderful Christmases from her past and how to re-create that, a character from the past reappears to help. Funny and hopeful.
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Dorothea Benton Frank is the New York Times best selling author of ten novels.

Dottie has appeared on NBC's Today Show, Parker Ladd's Book Talk and many local network affiliated television stations. She is a frequent speaker on creative writing and the creative process for students of all ages and in private venues as the National Arts Club, the Junior League of New York, Friends of the Library org
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