Melody Carlson's The Christmas Shoppe (Revell, 2011) engages readers with an intriguing peek into the lives of the people of Parrish Springs. When Matilda Honeycutt announces that her new shop on Main Street will be opening just in time for Christmas, the townsfolk are curious. When they venture into The Christmas Shoppe, they find shelves overflowing with what seems to be … junk. What is Matilda trying to do? Is she crazy, or is there something deeper going on in the heart of Parrish Springs?
Conniving town councilman George Snider is convinced Matilda is a witch-and not without reason. Matilda dresses oddly and seems to hold certain people under a "spell." Tommy Thompson, editor of the town's only newspaper, can't get close enough to interview her, a fact that frustrates the already disillusioned reporter. The new city manager, Susanna Elton, finds dealing with the antics of Councilman Snider and the unexpected attentions of Tommy enough to worry about without the embarrassment of having a thrift store on Main Street. One by one, the townspeople agree: Matilda Honeycutt needs to get out of Parrish Springs.
And then, just before the holidays, The Christmas Shoppe begins to work its magic.
Carlson's charming story abounds with insights into human frailty and divine redemption.
In their excursions into Matilda's domain, the townspeople revisit their own pasts and come face-to-face with issues long swept under the rug.
But the story has its flaws. The ending is sugary-sweet, with the resolution coming a bit too simply. Likewise, though some characters could have walked off of a street in your own town, others seem contrived, their actions or reactions hard to believe. With that in mind, readers of The Christmas Shoppe can look forward to a light read conveying an important message for the Christmas season.