Fans of Norah Lofts discussion

How Far to Bethlehem?
This topic is about How Far to Bethlehem?
15 views
How Far to Bethlehem? > How Far to Bethlehem--2015

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Karyl Carlson | 83 comments I have been reading this wonderful book every Advent/Christmas season for at least 10 years now. It has become a quiet refuge from the "hurly-burley" of the season that I look forward to more than I can say.
Joseph is such a dear man--quiet, contemplative, forward-looking in regard to Mary and Jesus' future from the very beginning. He had his doubts, but even before the angelic visitation he had decided to do what was best for Mary in spite of them.


message 2: by Barbara (last edited Dec 07, 2015 11:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments I like NL's Joseph too - I said in the main thread I think, that his accepting Mary and the pregnancy BEFORE his angelic visitation is an NL masterstroke I think, and instantly makes you love him.

Maybe this is too idiosyncratic for words , but I have also always loved the way in which NL has Mary be deeply compassionate to animals , surely a fitting attribute for her great role .


Karyl Carlson | 83 comments Oh, yes! Mary has such compassion for animals. There is a children's story by James Dillet Freeman in which Mary, a good Jewish woman,lets a little pig visit the newborn Christ child. She knows they are sentient creatures, not just food or beasts of burden.


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 398 comments It's nice of Joseph to take the blame for the bringing forward of the wedding, too!


Werner | 684 comments How Far to Bethlehem is one of my favorite books by Lofts --perhaps my top favorite, of the ones I've read. (I'm just sorry I waited so long --until 2010-- to experience it!) Probably most members of the group who'd be interested in my review have already read it (I linked to it on another thread); but in case any one hasn't and wants to, here's that link again: www.goodreads.com/review/show/39418945 .


Karyl Carlson | 83 comments I am assuming that most who read this discussion know the book well enough not to need spoiler alerts--if I'm wrong, I'm sorry.

Gaspar and Balthazar. At this point I have a hard time warming up to Gaspar, hardened barbarian that he is although one can already detect some softening around the edges. But I certainly feel for Balthazar, stoicly enduring the life of slavery that has been his lot, until the wonder of his visions drives him to save himself by escaping, then stoicly enduring the privations of the road.


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Oh yes Balthazar is the most lovable I do agree. But I do care for Gaspar, once I got over his early awfulness over the girl ( sorry I forget her name ) that his comrade wanted to marry . And we all know what happens , or is going to happen there after all !
And Melchior is an inspired creation isn't he ! Though I cry for the little pig every time . Not to mention Senya of course....


message 8: by Peggy (last edited Dec 18, 2015 04:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments I liked the theme of Balthazar's spiritual searching, especially his interest in the Hebrew faith and the realism of his hurt when he was told he wouldn't be accepted because he had been castrated. So different from Melchoir the intellectual and Gaspar the barbarian. They made quite a unique and unforgettable trio.

I moved this thread up for our convenience.


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Peggy wrote: "I liked the theme of Balthazar's spiritual searching, especially his interest in the Hebrew faith and the realism of his hurt when he was told he wouldn't be accepted because he had been castrated...."

Yes, a very good way of describing them Pegs - an unforgettable trio . Has anyone else ever made the Magi into 'real 'characters in literature I wonder ?
I like that they were all driven in some way or another , Melchior intellectually, Balthazar emotionally and Gaspar practically.


Karyl Carlson | 83 comments Barbara wrote: "Peggy wrote: "I liked the theme of Balthazar's spiritual searching, especially his interest in the Hebrew faith and the realism of his hurt when he was told he wouldn't be accepted because he had b..."

The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke is an interesting addition to the Wisemen story. But VERY old fashioned in writing style. At least it is short. And it is very similar to the legend of Babushka, the Russian lady who, following an encounter with the Three, goes out into the world in search of the Holy Child.


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments That sounds interesting Karyl, thank you ,


Karyl Carlson | 83 comments Once again I have finished "How Far to Bethlehem?" a few days after Christmas, but before Epiphany, which is probably the Ideal day on which to finish it.
In the last chapter NL puts stress on the stool which Eunice let Ephorus borrow for Mary. I wonder what is its significance?


Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 398 comments It's a gesture of respect, isn't it? Eunice didn't want Mary giving birth on her premises, but came to respect her courage - and also respects Ephorus for sticking up for Mary, which is a turning point in their relationship.


message 14: by Barbara (last edited Jan 03, 2016 04:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Yes I think a gesture of respect also. Eunice had become so attached to 'things' and domestic power as compensation for her bitter failure to be loved that for her to offer one of her precious things was a big deal.

I like to think that it was the turning point for new chapter, a happier chapter with her husband too. Another tiny miracle as it were .


Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments The story of Ephorus is really quite an interesting one by itself especially the part about his mysterious travels for the tin trade, wasn't it? Did we conclude in another discussion that this was a reference to Cornwall? I need to go over this chapter again.


Werner | 684 comments Yes, Peggy, that was a reference to Cornwall.


message 17: by Jackie (last edited Dec 21, 2019 08:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jackie | 66 comments Karyl wrote: "Once again I have finished "How Far to Bethlehem?" a few days after Christmas, but before Epiphany, which is probably the Ideal day on which to finish it.
In the last chapter NL puts stress on the ..."


I also feel certain the stool has significance; everything else does!


message 18: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 704 comments Good idea, Karyl! After all, whenever I'm late in sending my cards, I remind myself and the recipients that there are twelve days of Christmas!


message 19: by MaryC (last edited Dec 22, 2019 08:35PM) (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 704 comments Werner wrote: "Yes, Peggy, that was a reference to Cornwall."

Speaking of the Cornish tin trade, I've been told that there is a carving of a Minoan dagger high up on one of the stones.


back to top