Are the most treasured holiday memories the results of our own acts of benevolence?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Three blog events since I started this blog and all three events have included a book review of a Regina Jeffers book… “A coincidence?” you ask. “Yes and no,” I respond.
When I started my JAFF journey eleven months ago, I was so NEW to JAFF, I didn’t even know where to begin… I just knew I needed more, and more and more! I couldn’t stop myself. I looked on Amazon, I looked on Goodreads, I looked on Facebook. Yet, I still couldn’t get a handle on what this genre really included and how to get a grip on who wrote JAFF and who only dabbled in writing some JAFF, etc. One of the names that quickly became well-known through my searches was Regina Jeffers and it been a pleasure spending time reading her stories!
“Christmas at Pemberley” is a longer holiday-themed JAFF book, which made me feel like I spent my holiday season at Pemberley, amongst beloved friends and family. It’s also such a nice addition to the holiday JAFF reviews included in this event because there’s a religious tone to this story that is so touching and poignant. What would the holiday season be without taking the time to reflect on the meaning behind the holiday season? Regardless of your religious beliefs and practices, what you will find here in this book is a JAFF story that weaves together the spirituality of the season, along with the other meaningful reasons behind the holiday season.
This book reads as two parallel stories that eventually join together into one memorable holiday celebration. One story describes Darcy and Elizabeth’s travels, as they journey home to celebrate the holidays at Pemberley with Georgiana. Not a force to be reckoned with, the stormy winter weather causes them to delay their travels, thus altering their holiday preparations. Stranded at an inn, Darcy and Elizabeth attempt to make the inn feel more like a cheerful residence, in an effort to help bring holiday cheer to the guests residing at the inn. Never one to be comfortable in the company of strangers, Darcy makes great efforts to be amiable and kind throughout each challenge they face during their stay at the inn.
Yet, it’s not only the thought of being away from Pemberley during the Christmas celebrations that has Darcy and Elizabeth feeling less than cheerful this Christmas season. It’s their struggle to know the happiness of bringing a child of their own into this world that is tearing at their hearts. Adding to their heartache, is the fact that each one of them is struggling in a different way to come to terms with his/her grief and fears for their future.
The second story is the result of Darcy’s thoughtful efforts to bring joy and love to Elizabeth’s holiday season. He’s invited several special guests to spend the holidays with them at Pemberley. But when the storm keeps the Darcys away, it’s Georgiana who now must play the somewhat reluctant role of hostess. When some unexpected guests also show up at Pemberley, is Georgiana up to the task of keeping good will and cheer alive amongst her guests?
As we move back and forth between the events taking place with the Darcys and the guests at Pemberley, we experience the various paths that each character takes in learning for him/herself the true meaning of Christmas. When the Darcys meet a married couple who are expecting their first child, they must decide if they can put their anguish aside amongst these new friends when an unexpected emergency takes place at the inn. Through this life-altering event, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to face the heart-wrenching struggles they are battling within their own lives. Can our faith in God and humankind remain strong when we realize that this faith is being tested again and again?
I had several moments where I felt such compassion and empathy for Elizabeth and Darcy, as they struggled through the turmoils of infertility. As someone who has faced these challenges herself, I was probably more sensitive to the nature of their struggles. Regina Jeffers did a lovely job portraying their feelings in a way that communicated not only their fears about their future, but also their love and hope for each other. I loved the notes that Darcy would pour his soul into, allowing Elizabeth the time and the space to hear his vows of love for her and his confidence that no matter what happened, they would weather the storms together in their life.
To add levity and merriment to this book, we witness Georgiana’s attempts at keeping the peace amongst her guests at Pemberley, while adhering to the winter traditions that bring fun and gaiety to the season. Love is in the air, as several single ladies and gentleman discover the stirrings of love growing in their hearts. There were moments where I felt like a match-making mama, happily witnessing some new couples discovering the early days of love and companionship, mixed in with moments of humor, where I could hear the joyful banter between several of the characters.
“Christmas at Pemberley” struck the right chords of storytelling, as all of our favorite characters united together to experience and celebrate the gifts of the holiday season. The religious tones and messages were so beautifully incorporated, as the messages delivered throughout this story had the overall effect of communicating more about our own humanity and our purposes in life, as opposed to the beliefs of one specific religion or religious belief. These messages help Elizabeth understand and carry the love and the wisdom she needs to bring her through this very challenging, personal struggle.
As I reflected upon this story, I was reminded of this quote by Ka Chinery… “Light can only be understood with the wisdom of darkness.”
May the light and the darkness of this heartfelt story allow you to reflect upon your own meaning of the holiday season.
Regina Jeffers has two lovely giveaways that she would like to offer for two Just Jane 1813 readers. The first one is a signed paperback copy of “Christmas at Pemberley,” and the second giveaway is a copy of Janet Taylor’s 2016 Jane Austen Calendar. Each winner needs a U.S. mailing address to claim his/her giveaway.
Please share in the comments box the name of a book you plan on reading this holiday season. Please have all comments submitted by December 15th. Our giveaway winners will be announced on this blog on December 16, 2015.
I’d like to thank Regina Jeffers for writing this beautiful holiday sequel. Its messages are sure to stay with readers throughout the holiday season. I’d also like to thank her for offering our Just Jane 1813 readers these lovely giveaway opportunities!
Here’s a glimpse into the cover of Janet Taylor’s calendar. To see more details, please click the link below: