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October 6, 2020

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere ~ a Review

by MK French



May 1972
Thirty-five-year-old John Creighton pulls a slab of black walnut wood from the back of his pickup truck and carries it into the small workshop behind his home. He retrieves two more slabs, setting each one down on the worktable, sizing them up and his task at hand. What possible made him think that he could build a kitchen table by October when the only other things he has made to this point are mirror and picture frames? (p. 1)
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The Christmas Table
October 2020; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250164674
audio, ebook, print (240 pages); holiday fiction
In June 1972, John Creighton builds his wife Joan a kitchen table. In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers that she's pregnant and buys a table that had been refinished after purchase at a garage sale. Lauren discovers recipe cards in the table's drawer, complete with annotations. She feels connected to the mother and daughter that had used the cards and tries to discover who they were as she learns how to cook.

We have the dual timelines that cut back and forth, and I have to admit I assumed the worst when Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer soon after John starts to build the kitchen table. She is just learning to cook and gets the recipe cards from her mother Alice and involves her two children as much as possible to make memories with them. 

Lauren, who had grown up in the foster system and now has a wonderful husband and a warm found family at the child care center where she volunteers, learns to cook from the same recipe cards. They're annotated with Joan's family stories as well as hints and tricks to make each meal turn out the best, but no names are mentioned of the family itself. With her desire to be a good Mom and prepare for her unborn baby, she feels a connection to those stories and the obvious love in them. This starts the search for the Creightons forty years later.

As with many small towns, people can be characters and know about the histories of people from years ago. Some people in small towns can be standoffish and keep to themselves, while others are natural at welcoming others in. Gloria is one such character, who really helped create that family feeling for Lauren to be part of. Her bickering is with such love, and a lot of fun to read. You can tell she does it out of fun, and the friendship that Lauren develops with the other ladies is a great thing to read about. We never really learn definitively what happened to her mother, but these women all step in and become mothers of sorts, as well as the mother in the cards. Each friendship is a joy to read, and I loved how they all came together to help Lauren with her pregnancy as the story progressed.

The Christmas Table is a heartwarming novel, complete with different kinds of family and faith, and the communities that help bring these women through their troubled times. It takes a village to raise a child, and it certainly also takes a village to keep those mothers protected and safe.

Buy The Christmas Table at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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3 comments:

  1. What a heartwarming story! Thanks for sharing...and here's mine: “LIFE IN PIECES”

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds so good. Looks like the Christmas books are coming out. I love this time of year.

    ReplyDelete

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