Erin's Reviews > A Christmas Gift

A Christmas Gift by Glendon Swarthout
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's review
Nov 29, 2010

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bookshelves: christmas
Read in November, 2010

The season is Christmas, the place is a remote Michigan farm during the Great Depression, and the miracles are many and wondrous, from a city boy's initiation into the marvels of nature to a thrilling journey that leads to a strange encounter with an ancestor long dead. A Christmas Gift is a remembrance of the American past and of the love, sacrifice, and devotion that unite four generations of a remarkable family. On a stormy Christmas Eve, young James and his old grandfather decide to give the family's heirloom melodeon (a small pump organ) to their impoverished local church so that, on Christmas morning, the congregation can sing to the accompaniment of inspiring music. But how are they to haul the heavy instrument through the most violent blizzard of the year? How? With fierce determination and the dubious help of four rambunctious girls and some Christmas magic.

"A Christmas Gift" was originally published under the title "The Melodeon." Among other things, The Melodeon has the distinction of being the only best-selling American novel to ever appear under four separate titles, certainly not a record of distinction. The novella appeared under this first title from Doubleday in 1977. It made the New York Times best-seller list and was very well-reviewed and sold to television (see film listings). Doubleday made it that publishing house's Christmas "gift" book of 1977, sent to everyone the huge publisher did business with. It was a Reader's Digest Condensed Book as well.

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