Mr. Ives' Christmas
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Mr. Ives' Christmas

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  567 ratings  ·  64 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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sckenda
Jun 14, 2014 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who cling to faith through tears
Recommended to sckenda by: Serendipitous find at a bargain bin
I have read “Mr. Ives’ Christmas” almost every year since I first discovered it in 1997. It is about a kind but sad man named Edward Ives, who saw the good in everything and in everybody--except himself. He is deeply religious and weeps during daily Mass for reasons that he does not understand. He was once a foundling, and he is grateful to God for giving him a kindly father who selected him from an orphanage and shared with him the gifts of love and family. Ives is also grateful to God for an a...more
Dolors
Oct 06, 2013 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lost souls
Recommended to Dolors by: 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...more
B0nnie
Jun 17, 2012 B0nnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B0nnie by: sckenda
"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 Recog...more
Judy
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...more
Sara Snow
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.
Sharon
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
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
Licha
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....more
Karencita
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
Dob
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
Robert Ronsson
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...more
Geo Forman

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...more
Joshua D.
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...more
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...more
Holly
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
Louise
Mr. Ives is a quiet and spiritual man. A man who everyone loves and one who loves back. Mr. Ives' has struggled with the senseless and tragic death of his son Robert who was planning to be a Priest. He tries to reform the young man who murdered his son but is so, so tormented by his grief, depression and loss that his sadness gets in the way.

From dust jacket:

"When we first meet him in the 1950's, Mr. Ives is a devoutly religious man who, despite his beginnings in a foundling home, has fashioned...more
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kylene Jones
To be honest, I don't remember how this book came to be on my wish list. I must have read a review on it or something. It is not a book I normally would pick up to read but I did thoroughly enjoy it. It was not a fast read by any means but the story was good and it made me reflect on some things in my own life. The timing of reading it was very good for me. Whan I read the description of the book before I started it, I wasn't sure if I would want to read it at all as I am not a Christian. An agn...more
Charlotte
After I finished reading Mr. Ives' Christmas, I researched the author on the Internet and found a video of his being interviewed by Charlie Rose. The interview does not mention Mr. Ives' Christmas and was over 16 minutes long. It did give some insight into the author's personality and perhaps gives the reason he chose to have Mr. Ives adopted as a child. I then watched two other interviews with the author on the Internet. Often when I learn more about an author, I like the book better. That was...more
Gwen
The book was well written and the story of Mr. Ives well told. I guess at this time of year when I am coming off of a long cold winter it was so mcu like "real life" and I needed a book to escape "real life", right at the moment. It was interesting that Mr. Ives had many of the same thought processes that run through my mind. How sad that we do miss so much because we are unable to divert our minds to a more rational line of thinking that might help those closest to us, that also have needs to b...more
Frmaselli
Beautiful examination of a man's life and his crisis of faith after his son is killed. The story is told in the style of a Dickens' novel and one gets the sense that you are looking at this man's life as if looking in a window into his soul. It is a novel of a search for moral truths and struggle, a story of compassion, of goodness, and forgiveness. Hijuelos expertly weaves the Christmas theme throughout the book so that we are gently reminded as to the real reason for celebration. I couldn't he...more
Juanita
This book chronicles the story of Mr. Ives by visiting him during major events at different Christmases throughout his life. The tale is not linear, it jumps from an adult Mr. Ives to a young boy and back and forth, so you know fairly early on what one life defining moment shapes the book. The various time periods and characters were interesting and very detailed but I kept waiting for something more to happen. Once I was reconciled to the story just being about how Mr. Ives copes with his lot i...more
Rebecca
I'm grateful to Kathleen for giving me this book, although I thought it was kind of sappy, dumb, and sentimental. Ha! Sorry, Kath! I'm still glad I read it, though, and I'm glad of you` :-)
Karen
I absolutely love this book. Each time I read it I find something new to appreciate about this story. It speaks so eloquently to love, loss, grief, faith, and finding one's way.
Eileen
Recommended by: DailyDose@Powells.com

At first I thought it was just ok. But weeks after completing it, I can still feel and remember the images, the emotion, the melancholia of the book. Hijuelos is wonderful at describing in detail the New York scene and the "trudging over trach-covered mica-specked sidewalks on their way to work on bleak Monday mornings". I initially read the book over the Christmas holidays thinking it would be a feel-good book based on the title. However, this is definit
...more
Margaret
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
doug bowman
I heard Oscar Hijuelos on a radio show when this book first came out, and it sounded appealing. Hijuelos is so talented and there are many pleasures to be found in reading Mr. Ives' Christmas. This narrative of sadness, forgiveness, and redemption is skillfully crafted and never maudlin. The way he evokes a sense of time and place, especially winter in New York, totally allowed me to become immersed in the setting. Finally, his tenderly written observations of work, family, and church capture th...more
Sharon
This was a very well written story by Pulitzer Prize Winner Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.) The story centers around the father, whose son is murdered on Christmas eve. He is a very religious person but doubts his faith at times. The book is filled with some of the rituals of the Catholic church. Many New York neighborhoods are described in depth. His characters are very well developed. This is the kind of book that would great to be discussed in book clubs.
Sanna
Tunnelmallinen ja sjuva romaani herra Ivesista, jonka elämän suuret asiat on tapahtuneet joulun tienoilla. Surumielinen, mutta onnellinenkin romaani yhden miehen elämästä. Jäin kaipaamaan jonkinlaista syvyyttä, jonka avulla henkilöistä olisi tullut läheisempiä ja tapahtumista siten koskettavampia. Kolme ja puoli tähteä.
Mary
As the spouse of an NYC man, I enjoyed the descriptions of the various settings. Also appreciated the mood and themes portrayed. The story picked up for a while, then trudged along a bit, doing more telling than showing. And sorry: Just as I do not like to listen to people recount their dreams, I do not like to read about dreams, either. That said, a curious read.
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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
More about Oscar Hijuelos...
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Dark Dude Beautiful Maria of My Soul The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien Empress of the Splendid Season

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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” 5 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.” 4 likes
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