When it comes to Christmas stories I'm a real Scrooge. It's not that I don't love the holiday but every single Christmas story seems to be so sugary sweet or too predictable, even more so than a lot of the romances I read. With her latest novel, Baby It's Cold Outside, Susan May Warren has made me change my tune. It's not sappy or saccharin in fact it's one of the best seasonal stories I've ever read.
Following World War II so many small towns like Frost, Minnesota, felt the loss of many of their loved ones especially over the holidays. Dottie Morgan, the widow on the hill lost her son in the war and vows to keep as far away from Christmas as possible. She has nothing to celebrate especially since God has abandoned her...or so she thinks. Her neighbor, Gordy, close friend of her son along with three other complete strangers show Dottie that there are so many reasons to celebrate the season and to embrace the love that's been following her ever since childhood.
I was glued to every word of this story. Warren has captured the spirit of Christmas while also keeping true to the feeling of loss and sadness that gripped the nation immediately following the World War II. Dottie's grief was so genuine. When she got the closure that she needed concerning her son Nelson it was most definitely a "Kleenex" moment. Dottie's friend Violet wasn't without her own sorrows. While most women served on the home front, Violet was in the WAACs and did "men's" work that gained her little appreciation among the members of her community. One couldn't help but feel her frustration about not being able to share her true self with her family and friends for fear of additional ostracism. This is definitely a book filled to the brim with raw emotion and internal conflict!
Baby, It's Cold Outside is an excellent way to start off your 2011 Christmas book collection. I have the feeling that this is going to be an annual holiday read for me and one to pass on and share with my friends and family. If you're a fan of Susan May Warren you won't be disappointed. Between this book and Heiress it's been a stellar year!
Rather than give a review about all the great characters or the touching scenes of this book, I'm simply going to say that sometimes there are books that come along at just the right moment in your life, and they leave the most profound impression. To some, Baby, It's Cold Outside may represent a wonderful start into Christmas books this season, but for me, it became a personal journey of sorts--a chance to pull back the curtain and recognize that, just like Dottie Morgan, I'm not perfect, either. To some, that may sound like a horrible quality for a book. (I mean, really...most readers don't really like to have their toes stepped on while they're reading a novel, thank you very much.) But there's something about the way that Susan does it that doesn't come off as preachy or condescending. These personal, introspective moments are what make Susan's books so special to me. They get under my skin, and before it's over, I'm either at the point of tears and/or thanking God that he still loves me despite my faults.
And hey, if you're looking for an entertaining Christmas story, you'll still get it here...no worries. But I hope that, like me, you will take away something more than just, "That was a great book." I hope you'll give it the chance to be a blessing to you. I never expected it to give one to me.