Book Review “The Christmas Bus” written by Christian author Melody Carlson
In the beginning of this novel, before the story even begins, the author quotes this bible verse: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13: 1-2.
So what did I think of this book? I liked it. From the very beginning, it peeked my interest. It didn’t start out slow to me at all. I was already intrigued.
This novel was written from the perspective of a Bed and Breakfast owner Edith Ryan, she is a Pastor’s wife and she has four grown married children. Edith lives in a Christmas all year round quaint little town called “Christmas Valley.” Where all the businesses are Christmas themed and named after something relating to the holiday, e.g, The North Pole Coffee Shop, Mrs. Santa’s Diner, Shepherd’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, etc.
Though most people in the town tend to get tired of the year round Christmas theme, Edith loves it and loves it even more when Christmas season comes around and all her kids come home for the holidays. Edith loves being surrounded by her kids and grandkids during the holidays, but this Christmas none of her kids are able to come home.
Inspired by one of her husband’s midweek messages about being hospitable to strangers because you maybe entertaining angels unawares. Edith had a great idea. So that she and her husband won’t be alone this Christmas, she’ll open up the Bed & Breakfast for the holidays; and do her best to make her guest’s stay extra special and festive.
Edith anticipated what kind of guest would arrive. Her husband supported her idea, and they both prayed to God asking him to send the right people to them, people who needed a little Christmas cheer this year.
The arrival of her first guest really started to shake things up in Christmas Valley. She was a very cantankerous, opinionated, strong-willed, pushy old lady named Myrtle Pinkerton. A woman who was not afraid to voice her opinion to others openly, not worrying too much of who she offends or how she comes across.
Other guest included Jim and Carmen Fields, a thirty-something couple, who constantly argues; an elderly widower named Albert Benson; a divorced mother named Leslie and her five year old daughter Meghan; and Lauren and Michael Thomas who have huge problems of their own.
Half way through the book marks the arrival of the very eccentric, very colorful Christmas Bus (so called by Edith). A home and mode of transportation for a very young and very poor pregnant couple, Collin and Amy, who were on their way to California so Collin could find work, but got a little derailed by engine trouble.
Because it was snowing heavily outside, they thought they’d use what little they have to treat themselves to a room at the Inn for one night, but there was no room at the inn, this reminded Edith of the first Christmas story of so very long ago.
Even though the name of this story is “The Christmas Bus,” I think there was a character in this story that stood out more than the bus itself; Myrtle Pinkerton, as I mentioned before, really shook things up in Christmas Valley upon her arrival. She rubbed many people the wrong way, as did that very loud, eye-catching bus parked in front of Shepherd’s Inn, which the townsfolk including the Mayor thought was spoiling the well-planned ambiance of the town.
Nevertheless, she changed the lives of all the people she came into contact with, without them realizing until she was gone; leaving folks to wonder if she was an angel disguised in a very unconventional package. Charles and Edith Ryan believed she was.
I thought the book was well written, I love the depiction of the characters; some more defined than others. I liked that the setting of the story takes place at a Bed and Breakfast which leaves room for characters of all kinds of different characteristics and backgrounds to come together under one roof and mesh together so magnificently, but the true stand-out character was definitely Myrtle.
Although, I don’t really have much complaints about the story nor was I completely disappointed at the outcome, it felt a bit unfinished, like it was missing something; and it needed a more powerful, heartwarming and impactful ending to knit the whole story and the character developments together. I felt like I didn’t quite get the prophetic ending I was expecting.
Coming to the last few chapters, I felt the character Myrtle cooking up a good stew that would change the town and the folks staying at Shepherd’s Inn lives forever. I just did not feel that it was clearly defined in the end. It left me really wanting to know, well, what happens now to all these people. The author just hinted at some possibilities, without truly giving us closure. I hate that.
Nevertheless, I still liked this book despite not getting the closure I was hoping for in the end. I don’t want to discourage you, it is a good book. It needed more but I still think it is a very nice book to read and relax with. So go for it and tell me what you think?
* * * * (4 stars out of 5)
Christmas in July Reading Marathon
Book One- The Treasure of Christmas- A 3-n-1 Christmas Collection
Novel One- “The Christmas Bus”
Up Next- “The Gift of Christmas Present”
You can buy Christmas books at AllChristmasBooks.com