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Mr. Ives' Christmas

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  751 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
The Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller author writes a story of haunted love about a man reflecting upon his life through the lens of Christmases past.
Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published November 1st 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,521)
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Angela M
Dec 11, 2015 Angela M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wouldn't have found this beautifully sad, heartbreaking yet uplifting story if I hadn't read Elyse's review and I may not have read it if I hadn't read Steve's review. I was quite stunned when I read his review, not just because it is as beautiful, sad, inspiring and uplifting as this novel, but because I felt an immediate connection with Steve and his loss . My family and I also lost a loved one to a violent act . Many years ago my brother who 22 at the time was a robbery victim. So of course
Phyllis Eisenstadt
Jan 14, 2016 Phyllis Eisenstadt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.
Recommended to Phyllis by: Steve Sckenda, our master reviewer
Shelves: favorites

For the second time in my life I am speechless, not merely because of Hijuelos's superb book, which stirs up every possible emotion, but for other reasons, as well. I just read Steve Sckenda's review, and am so stricken by his loss, which resonates with mine, that it is impossible for me to add anything further. I know how Steve felt when he found his wife murdered, and I can only imagine how he must endure living with that horror on a daily basis. Both Mr. Ives and Steve have similar
Oct 06, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lost souls
Recommended to Dolors by: Steve aka Sckenda
“God’s most common form? The goodness and piety of others.” (93)

Every human being is confronted at some point by a choice between doubt or faith, indifferent despair or spiritual struggle, torn between breaking down and breaking through to a deeper way of learning.
I was raised and educated as a Catholic, but the simple, unquestioned faith in early life always gets tested. I started doubting the idea that death could be the ultimate sacrifice in earthy life to ensure eternal rest in Heaven. I
Dec 01, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Today is December 1, 2015. The Christmas Holiday season has officially arrived.

I'm Jewish. I normally don't choose Christmas stories to read. I just don't.
I particularly shy away from books about Christian Faith.

I had a change of heart - earlier this year. After reading *STEVE'S* review. I purchased "Mr. Ives' Christmas", within seconds.
I intentionally waited for the season to read it. This is a novel that can easily be bumped to the top of your TBR list ( even if you've promised to read 23
Jun 17, 2012 B0nnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B0nnie by: Steve Kendall
"It is difficult to be religious, impossible to be merry, at every moment of life, and festivals are as sunlit peaks, testifying above dark valleys, to the eternal radiance." Clement A. Miles, epigraph to Mr. Ives' Christmas

A Christmas Carol. The Book of Job. Crime and Punishment.

Mr. Ives' Christmas channels all these through Catholic eyes.

But I look at Mr. Ives' Christmas as sort of The Recognitions lite, but completely without the satire. Instead we get unabashed earnestness. As in The Rec
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christmas 2015 started for me on October 31. On Halloween night, while my kids were out trick-or-treating and I was home handing out candy, I switched channels on the television, going from Halloween 3: Season of the Witch on AMC, to The Christmas Card on Hallmark. I know. Too soon. I suppose I'm supposed to make moaning noises about "Christmas creep" and all that. But really, there's no harm in expanding the holiday season. Life is full of drudgery. The holidays are a brilliant contrast, full o ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Ives' Christmas is the poignant story of a man's grief over his murdered son. it's about other things as well, but the heart of this novel is Mr. Ives, an adopted orphan who finds the greatest joy in his life in his children and the murder of his 19 year old son.

The book is also an amazing depiction of New York City in the mid-20th century. It's very much the city I grew up in and Hijuelos is both accurate and evocative in a way few writers are. He makes that city come to life again and brou
Dec 25, 2013 Licha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Ives, I am not ready to let you go.

What started off as a slow read for me and a bit of an annoying overabundance of commas turned into an appreciation for what the author accomplished here. I was almost ready to discard this at first because of all the commas the author was using. It was really slowing me down. Then there was the use of lists. If the author was going to tell you what was in Mr. Ives’ basement, you would get the whole inventory. If he was talking about the churches near Mr.
Oscar Hijuelos' third novel began a bit slowly but in some way I have yet to figure out, took hold of me with a gradually tightening grip and left me gasping for relief at the end. The writing is deceptive. It seemed almost simple, almost pedestrian, until I found myself embedded in the hearts and minds of Mr Ives and his wife.

The couple, Mr Ives of Cuban descent and Mrs Ives of Irish, are bound together by passion, intellect, and faith. Content to remain living in a multicultural neighborhood i
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: Mr Ives has a successful career in advertising, a wife and two children, and believes he has achieved the typical American dream. But that is shattered when his son Robert is killed at Christmas. Overwhelmed by grief and threatened by a loss of faith in humankind, Mr Ives questions the very foundations of his life.

My reactions:
I came across this book only because my Hispanic book club was looking for a Christmas book. I’d read Hijuelos’ Pulitzer-winner The Mambo Kings Play
Dec 08, 2015 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. It did in this book and it did in real life with Steve. Look at what happened in San Bernadino just a few days ago. It could happen to me, to you. This beautiful world has an element of chaos, perhaps madness, that can be devistating and knock you all the way down.

So how does one come to terms with losing the love of your life and cope with the sheer senselessness of it all? Mr. Ives' Christmas tackles this subject. And so Mr. Ives' life has changed f
This 1995 short novel by Oscar Hijuelos tells the story of the life of Edward Ives. Ives was adopted as a young child by a man who had adopted 3 other children. Edward knows nothing of his birth parents but with his dark Mediterranean looks, he is sometimes discriminated against in New York City where he lives his entire life. Ives is a skilled artist, and goes on to have a long career as an illustrator in advertising. He marries an Irish American woman, Annie MacGuire. Ives is a deeply religiou ...more
This is the haunting tale of one man's struggle to find peace, love, and spirituality in his life, particularly after the shocking murder of his only son right before Christmas. The book then tracks Ives throughout his life, focusing on Christmas-time each year. I picked this up in my effort to find peace and spiritual reflection in this hectic holiday season. There were quite a few inspiring moments of the human experiencing the divine, but the deep focus on the Catholic religion and practices, ...more
#2015-Reading-Challenge-Group--Week-47: a book set at Christmas.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Ives thinks "that [God] was of the Spirit and He did not interfere in human affairs...He provided a light toward which to aspire..." This is a remarkably moving story of faith put to the test, of facing heart-breaking loss and spiritual crisis. Ives is a genuinely good person who has done his best in life, loved his wife, family and friends and his God...until one day just before Christmas in
Russell Sanders
I adore Oscar Hijuelos. As I’ve said in another review of one of his books, there is a subtle, Cuban rhythm that permeates his storytelling, and it is like a warm fragrant beach night. So what could be better than Oscar Hijuelos and Christmas combined? I saw his book Mr. Ives’ Christmas and was immediately attracted to it, figuring a little Christmas salsa would be refreshing. But Mr. Ives’ Christmas is not a light holiday read, nor does it have that rhythm of the previous novels by Hijuelos I’v ...more
Sara Snow
Dec 18, 2013 Sara Snow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly don't know what to say about this book. It was so simple I found myself waiting for "it" to happen, in every chapter. And when "it" kept not happening I started to wonder what was the point of this book. But somehow, somewhere I fell for Ives and wanted nothing more than that which he finally faces in the end. And at the end I cried at the beauty of the prose that took me so by surprise.
Dec 17, 2011 Sharon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 to 3
Engaged me at beginning but became bored third of the way in and thereon. Just continued to plod, plod, plod along.
Steven Symes
Apr 21, 2010 Steven Symes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book several years ago, but have circled back and have re-read it several times. The book I know was criticized by some in the Latino literature community because there is not much Latino-ness in the story or the characters. I think the book marks an important point in Latino literature, where a Latino can just write a really good story that does not have to be about Latino culture, etc. Hijuelos certainly is a very competent storyteller, and has been called the modern day Dickens by ...more
Dec 22, 2015 Deyanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deyanne by: Steve Sckenda
Having never experienced this kind of pain and loss, I vicariously entered a multi-layered world - one man's attempt, following a devastating death, at finding and holding onto peace. The Catholic references and background were not familiar to me. The redemption for me was powerful, however. So many of the finely drawn characters in this novel elicited my empathy. A horrifically violent act changed the life of a gentle and quiet man. I finished this novel with a resolve to be more sympathetic to ...more
Mar 30, 2008 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This simple, yet beautifully written book deals tenderly with ethics. The eponymous hero has lost his dear seventeen year-old son to murder and is left, with his wife, to test the strength of his Christian values as he meets with his son's murderer. The enormous loss strains the Ives' marriage, and Edward struggles both with his terrible sorrow and with the deterioration of his marriage. This story is quietly written, but the book packs an emotional wallop. This book would be a good choice for a ...more
Jun 26, 2009 Dob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A review I posted on Amazon in 2000: "It's a diamond that cuts into the great spiritual wasteland. Oscar Hijuelos nails the virtues of moral truths and redemption of love, forgiveness, compassion -- those simple selfless qualities that our world considers trite. He does it through an amazing story of a quiet, humble man whose deep faith inspired: Ed Ives. This book is among my top favorites ever. I laughed, cried (blubbered while reading parts to my wife, actually)." In sum, it's one of my all-t ...more
Cliff Dolph
We have expectations for Christmas stories, or maybe I should speak for myself. This novel refers frequently to Charles Dickens (among the main character's prized possessions are some early illustrated editions of Dickens), and the orphaned main character's name (taken by his adoptive family from the illustrator of Currier and Ives fame) set me up to expect a nostalgic, whimsical, magical holiday fable (with perhaps a Latino flavor). I was ready for a heartwarming new Christmas classic, one I ho ...more
Robert Ronsson
Mar 24, 2014 Robert Ronsson rated it liked it
Some books leave you puzzled. This is one of them. To say that it reads like a biography is a compliment to the author because he makes the character of Mr Ives so real. But it's back-handed in that the device that brings fiction to life - dialogue - is almost entirely absent. It means that the narrative is all 'tell'. It shouldn't grip you but it does. You have to be a very good writer to pull off this trick.
Put simply, the novel is a study of Ives' struggle to maintain his religious belief fol
Dec 21, 2015 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Charles Ives is one of my favorite fictional characters. As an adoptee, he lives in gratitude for his adopted father and the life he has provided for him, yet he wonders who his parents were---a lifelong question for him and one that he will never be able to answer. In addition to gratitude, his Catholic faith defines his outlook on life. He marries a woman he passionately loves, has two children and lives a life of service toward those less fortunate. His world and faith are rocked, however, wh ...more
I read this book on the recommendation of someone in a magazine. It was a well written book, with wonderful descriptions, but I felt that it just went on and on, and in the end it just petered out. It is the story of Mr. Ives, whose son is senselessly shot and killed before he reaches the age of 20. This one single event changed Mr. Ives forever, and he had difficulty truly engaging in life from that point on. By the end of the book he seems to inexplicably begin to live life more fully, but the ...more
Geo Forman
Jan 25, 2014 Geo Forman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A gentle book. A kind book. When a reviewer said that he read this book every Christmas, I was expecting a 'wow" type ending. Not so. Gentle from beginning to end. A shy struggling artist meets a beautiful, passionate woman in an art class. somehow she became attracted to this invisible man and they married and had two children. The oldest, a boy, decided to become a priest but shortly before leaving for seminary, he was gunned down in his New York neighborhood by a teenage punk who didn't like
Joshua D.
Jan 10, 2014 Joshua D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The late Oscar Hiujuelos is an American born novelist of Cuban descent. The Mambo Kings made him the first hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize. Six years later he wrote the widely acclaimed (though less popular) Mr Ives' Christmas.

The story follows Mr Ives, dipping into his world during the holiday season over the course of his life. Ives grows up in a foundling home, knowing nothing of his birth parents (or even his own ancestry). He suspects some hispanic background, but was adopted and raised
What an odd little book. I thought it might be a perfect read for the holidays (as it does revolve around Christmases), but it probably isn't for everyone.

The story follows the lives and thoughts of the main character, Mr. Ives, over the span of his life. However, it is not really a linear progression, though it does try to start at the beginning with his childhood (as an orphan) and take it to the end (his old age). Instead, it meanders back and forth through time and events to develop a charac
Christopher MacMillan
After reading Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize winner The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love - and being kind of underwhelmed by what I found - I was intrigued in giving Mr. Ives' Christmas a shot. Hijuelos wrote it five years after Mambo Kings, and it too was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, so I was keen to see if I had missed something in terms of the author's writing during my first time around with one of his works.

As it turns out, this was slightly better than The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love o
Jun 05, 2011 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ives, orphaned as a baby and unsure of his ethnicity (allowing Hijuelos to explore race relations in NY from an interesting perspective), has pivotal events throughout his life that occur during the Christmas season; over Christmas he's adopted, he meets his future wife, he has what he thinks is a vision, his son dies, etc. The holiday is used as a circular reference but also stands alone as the holiday with which we are so familiar, the holiday that has many personal associations to the average ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Mr Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos 1 10 Nov 12, 2015 06:01AM  
  • The Manikin
  • Leaving the Land
  • The Collected Stories
  • The Feud
  • Persian Nights
  • Whites
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen
  • All Souls
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • At Weddings and Wakes
  • Paradise
  • Mean Spirit
  • An Unfinished Season
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • What I Lived For
  • Love in Infant Monkeys
  • Servants of the Map
  • Jernigan
Oscar Hijuelos (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist. He is the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Hijuelos was born in New York City, in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to Cuban immigrant parents. He attended the Corpus Christi School, public schools, and later attended Bronx Community College, Lehman College, and Manhattan Community College before matriculating into and
More about Oscar Hijuelos...

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“On his back, Robert must have had time to see something beautiful, and not just the ugliness of a city street at the end of life. Even with the tremendous pain in his badly gutted belly he would have looked up beyond the fire escapes and the windows with their glittery trees and television glows, to the sky about the rooftops. A sky shimmery with the possibilities of the death; lights exaggerated, the heavens peeled back- a swirling haze of nebulae and comets - in some distant place, intimations of the new beginning into which he would soon journey” 7 likes
“Oh yes!...The sweet summons of God to man. That's when He calls you up to His arms. And it's the most beautiful thing, a rebirth, a new life. But, just the same I'm in no rush to find out.” 5 likes
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