The Christmas Table
by Donna VanLiere
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Book #10 in the Christmas Hope series
Number of pages: 240
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Read 10/1/20 to 10/2/20
In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother’s recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.
In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she’s pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory’s Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.
The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she’s always longed for?
This is a new-to-me author, and I have to admit that I almost passed on this story. I’m don’t tend to read books from a series unless I have read the previous books. The synopsis of this story really drew me in and, looking back at the previous books, I realized they aren’t actually connected in a way that makes it necessary to read the others first. In fact, after reading this book I can say it read as a true standalone to me.
Let me warn you, this story will make you cry. My tears weren’t all of sadness, there were also tears of joy at times. Joan is such a marvelous mother and wife, and John a virtuous and loving husband and father. The love between these two is a beautiful thing. No matter what life throws in their path, they never waver. When one feels like giving up the fight, the other just fights harder until they are on equal footing again.
The jumping back in forth was done seamlessly and with great skill. I was never confused as to who I was reading about or what era I was in. While I enjoyed the story of John and Joan the most, Lauren’s story helped to bring light when things got dark.
I’ll definitely be checking out the other books in this series. I’m a sucker for a good sentimental Christmas story, and this one checked all the boxes.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**