Saturday, November 16, 2019

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep:  Three Charming Christmas Tales set in Victorian England contains 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, A Tale of Two Hearts, and The Old Lace Shop.  The first two tales were published previously with The Old Lace Shop being a new story to wrap up this Dickens trilogy.
Victorian Christmas Card Houses Village
12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep is the first book in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  Clare Chapman lost everything nine months ago.  She is surprised when she receives an invitation to spend twelve days Bleakly Manor.  If Clare lasts the full duration, she will receive a sum of 500 pounds.  When Clare arrives at the manor, she finds she was not the only person to receive the unusual invitation and promised something in return.  Ben Lane was arrested on his way to marry Clare for a crime he did not commit.  He was promised his freedom if he stays through the twelfth day of Christmas.  Their anonymous host has decided that only one of the guests will win their promised prize.  Which guest will last the full twelve days and what is the person willing to do to win? 
A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep is the second installment in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  Mina Scott works at The Golden Egg Inn owned by her father, Jasper Scott in 1853 London.  Mina is engrossed in David Copperfield when her father finds her and sends her back to work.  He fails to understand her love of literature.  She enters the taproom and finds her crush William Barlow along with his friend Thomas Fitzroy.  William is a law clerk with a gentleman’s upbringing and an ailing mother with crippling medical bills.  His uncle, Charles Barlow is ready to name his heir.  It is between William and his conniving cousin, Percy.  When William learned his uncle would prefer to leave his estate to a married man, William may have given him the impression he had a bride.  Now Charles is hosting a tea for his heirs and their wives and William needs to find a woman willing to play the part.  When Mina appears, Williams asks if she will do him the favor of playing his wife for the tea.  Unfortunately, things do not go as planned and the deception will need to continue until Christmas.  Uncle Barlow is kind, gracious and a lover of literature just like Mina.  While she dislikes Percy and his equally odious wife, Mina does like deceiving the sweet man.  What happens when the truth is revealed?
The custom of elaborately decorated Christmas trees was popularized in the U.S. by the Victorians and epitomizes the exhuberant Victorian love of opulence.
The Old Lace Shop by Michelle Griep takes readers to London 1855 where Bella White, who was recently widowed, is finally free of her domineering husband.  Her father married her off to Mr. White eight long years ago.  Bella is now going consulting with the solicitor to liquidate her husband’s assets.  When she comes across Nottingham Lace & Hose where she owns the majority share, Bella decides to keep this enterprise.  This will allow her to be productive and earn her own money.  Bella is surprised when she arrives to find her business partner is Edmund Archer, her former beau.  Edmund loved Bella but her father would not allow their match.  Is this their second chance?
Vintage Card (88 pieces)
I have enjoyed all three tales in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  They can each be read on their own, but why would you want to read just one of these charming novellas.  12 Days at Bleakly Manor is a well-crafted and entertaining novel.  It is short, but it is packed full of action and intrigue.  The mystery was delightful (see if you can figure out the culprit in this one) and the characters interesting.    I like the Christian beliefs expressed in the story (compassion, prayer, faith, forgiveness, second chances, God is in control, trust, and hope).  The Christian theme is light, but the point is gotten across.  In A Tale of Two Hearts, Michelle Griep brought London in 1853 to life with her descriptions of the clothing, language, literature as well the architecture, cobbled streets, the inn and the insides of the buildings as well as the class stations of the characters.  I especially loved the imagery of Purcell’s where they had tea with Uncle Barlow.  A Tale of Two Hearts has delightful characters.  I especially liked Uncle Barlow and Miss Whymsy.  They are two charming people who have a touch of whimsy.  There are some good life lessons included in the story.  Second chances, forgiveness and Christian charity being the main themes.  Every one of us has needed a second chance at one time or another.  The book is told from William and Mina’s point-of-views giving us different perspectives.  It is always fascinating to see how different men think from woman.  There are references to Charles Dickens work scattered throughout the story.  The Old Lace Shop is a well-crafted story with a good flow.   I thought the characters were developed and realistic for the time period.  Bella arrives in Nottingham and is surprised to see blind women outside begging for assistance.  She soon learns that they lost their eyesight making lace.  The kindhearted Bella wants to find a way to help them plus she has other improvements in mind for the factory much to Edmund’s dismay.  We see the importance of faith and prayer.  How we need to rely on God and turn our worries over to him. All three stories are captivating, but 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is my favorite.  If you enjoy historical stories, you will not be disappointed with Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  It was interesting to see how Dickens came into play in each novella.  I like how the author gave us three diverse yet complimentary tales.  Once Upon a Dickens Christmas contains three engaging novellas that will put you in the mood for Christmas.
“A merry Christmas, with Love’s gifts for the young, Home’s comforts for the old, and Heaven’s bright hopes for all, is our ferve...
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas* can be purchased at Amazon* (Amazon UK) plus other major booksellers.  I hope you enjoy these tales as much as I did.  I want to thank you for stopping by today.  I plan on reviewing The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas tomorrow.  On Sundays, I review books that I was not able to feature when they were released.  I hope you have a leisurely day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Reading and Art: George Bernard O'Neill
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