Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)'s Reviews > Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a Bed

Coming Home for Christmas by Carla    Kelly
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Spending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war affects families during wartimes. In the case of the Wilkie-Warton family, all three generations of the family have met during a war and married. I liked how Ms. Kelly took the very depressing concept of war and loss and used it as a backdrop to romances in development, and in a way that felt realistic and involved me emotionally. I especially appreciated how each story read differently, but was no less enthralling.

My thoughts on each story:

1812: A Christmas in Paradise
: This story resonated personally with me because I lived in San Diego for six years, and it did feel a bit like being in paradise, although there were also some less desirable aspects about it. No, I wasn't shipwrecked there, a Scot in a strange land of perpetual warm weather, fish galore, and lots of Spanish/Mexican culture. But I think that I can identify with most of those things I listed. What I loved the most about this story was the earnest good-heartedness of the hero, Thomas. He is a Navy surgeon who genuinely cares about people. While human, that caring part of him motivated him to do the right thing and offer marriage to Laura Ortiz, who was truly in desperate straits. That marriage works out very well for them both, as they find true love. I admit one part made me cry like a baby. I'm sappy like that.

1855: O Christmas Tree : I don't have the pleasure of reading too many books set during the Crimean War, but this is one of them. That alone was one more advantage of this story. Added to this was the beautiful friends-to-lovers story between widowed Lilian, the daughter of Laura and Thomas from the first story, and an American Army Corps of Engineers officer, Trey Wharton. I loved how shy Trey was. He was constantly blushing, although he had a good sense of humor and a warm way about him. I wanted to give him a hug. I was glad that these two people found each other in a war-torn landscape where they saw too many bad things that weighed on their souls. I also like the unique way that they were able to bring and celebrate Christmas with the wounded soldiers and the Sisters who worked in the hospital. It had a bit of the "Gift of the Magi" by O Henry vibe to it. This one made me tear up as well. Yes, sap here!

1877: No Crib for a Bed: Ms. Kelly takes the reader and Captain Wilkie Wharton, Lilian's son to the Old West, where this Army surgeon sees the aftermath of the Indian Wars in a very personal way. He's asked to escort a regained Indian captive white woman back to her people in Iowa. Only Nora doesn't want to go, because she has to leave her children behind, since their father was Indian. His heart hurts for her, but he doesn't have a choice otherwise. Along with Wilkie is Frannie Coughlin, a cheerful teacher in Fort Laramie, who is also traveling back East. They find a companionship together that is problematic, considering that Wilkie has a fiancee' waiting for him back home. When Wilkie delivers a baby from a dying mother with Frannie's assistance, both realize there is no going back when that strong a bond forms between two people. Yes, again this one made me cry. I felt so bad for Nora. To think that they were forcibly separating her from her own children because they were half-Indian and she wasn't. I couldn't imagine the pain she was in. Also the newborn baby was so cute. Yes, my sap quotient goes up even more. The romance part was good too.

Overall Thoughts: Carla Kelly successfully writes a trio of books that are interconnected in an ingenious way, all around the theme of wartime, medicine and Christmas away from home. Each one touched me in different ways, and I just plain like and respect her characters. They are all grounded and realistic people in the best of ways. While I didn't finish this one before or during Christmas, but in fact, three days afterwards, I still love immersing myself in the Christmas spirit, and this book provides that feeling in spades, along with a great romance.

For that, I give it 4.25/5.0 stars.

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Werner (new)

Werner Carla Kelly is the author of the Spur-Award-winning story "A Season for Heroes" (1978), which explores the enduring bond of friendship between a black U.S. cavalry trooper and a white officer and his wife, formed during the Apache wars in 1882. (Black troops served credibly in the U.S. Army during the Civil War and the subsequent Indian wars, but their experience has rarely been used in historical fiction.) That's my only experience with her work, but I highly recommend it.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Thanks for the recommendation, Werner. I have heard that the Indian Wars is an area of expertise for her, so I will definitely check that book out!


message 3: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, historical Western fiction about the Indian wars is the genre she first started writing in, and wrote in it a great deal. "A Season for Heroes" isn't actually a whole book, just a single story, part of her linked series of Fort Laramie Stories. (One of the others in that group, "Kathleen Flaherty's Long Winter," also won her a Spur Award.)


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) Which book are those stories found in, Werner?


message 5: by Werner (new)

Werner Danielle, good question! Unfortunately, I'll have to do a little digging, and get back to you on this. I read "A Season for Heroes" in an anthology of Western stories (all by, I think, women authors) several years ago at the public library in Harrisonburg, VA; but that was before I joined Goodreads in early 2008, so I didn't keep a record of the bibliographic information. Locating the book again might have to wait until we go back up there next summer. :-(


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Danielle, the entire corpus of Kelly's Indian wars stories are collected in Here's to the Ladies: Stories of the Frontier Army (Texas Christian Univ. Press, 2003). That includes both of the Spur Award winners mentioned above.


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