The Christmas Angel (by Abbie Farwell Brown)

I had never heard of Abbie Farwell Brown; apparently she was an American writer of children's books who lived in the Victorian era. I came across her when looking for books to download for my Kindle, preferably free.

'The Christmas Angel' is long out of copyright, and available free on Project Gutenberg in various formats, as well as in Kindle editions on Amazon. I was not entirely sure what to expect when I started reading it; my first impression was that Miss Terry - the cantankerous and cynical elderly heroine of the book - was a reincarnation of Dickens' better known Ebenezer Scrooge. Miss Terry clearly considers Christmas - and any other celebrations or festivities - as humbug, and it is with some reluctance that she allows her young maid to go out to see the sights on Christmas Eve.

Miss Terry decides that the time has come to get rid of various children's toys from her past. Rather than burning them in her grate, as she initially plans, she determines to leave them out in the street to see what will happen. She is convinced that human nature is selfish and greedy... and, from what she observes, it appears that she is correct in her cynicism.

However, an unexpected visitor - who makes the book unexpectedly surreal - is able to show that events were not quite as Miss Terry had interpreted them. The alternative view of what happened is quite cleverly done, if somewhat predictable.

It was inevitably somewhat twee with rather too much soliloquising for my tastes, but given the era, it's quite a nice little morality story. My only slight disappointment was that there are evidently some line drawings, but they are not included in the free Kindle editions. I understand that there are some Kindle versions (not free) which may include the illustrations - please download a sample or check reviews before buying, if this is important to you.

Note that the Amazon links given are to paperback forms of this book.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 4th November 2011

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