Christmas Time in the City
I found Mary Kay Andrews’ Bright Lights, Big Christmas on the new release table at my local library. The book is perfect for getting one in the mood for Christmas. A heart-warming story of friendship and new love, you won’t want to put it down. In fact, I read it cover to cover even though I started the novel just after supper.
Setting for Bright Lights, Big Christmas
The novel takes place in New York City, specifically the West Village. Each year for decades, the Tolliver family from North Carolina sells their Christmas trees in the same spot. Fixtures of the neighborhood from the Saturday after Thanksgiving until the trees are gone.
However, this year there is a late start. Old Jock Tolliver is ill. His somewhat estranged daughter, Kerry, is roped into helping her older brother. Her brother Murphy is like a stranger. Both are casualties of divorce, each raised by a different parent. However, Kerry and Murphy grudgingly form a bond in a neighborhood known for creating ties. Much of the story focuses on the pair discovering the talents of the other.
Storyline and Characters
Multiple challenges complicate this year’s sales. In addition to the late start, competition has moved in bringing pitfalls. But as the siblings overcome the obstacles thrown their way, they also forge new bonds.
Key to the story are the many residents of the street. Most know Murphy and befriend Kerry as well. Another thread to the tale is the budding relationship of Kerry and divorcee Patrick. He and ex-wife Gretchen move in and out of their flat while young son Austin stays put. Thus, providing stability for the precocious kid.
The final piece is the mysterious Heinz. Scruffy and possibly homeless, Heinz captures the devotion of Austin and the respect of Kerry. The cantankerous old man constructively critiques her artwork, pushing her to improve. Heinz disappears and everyone in the neighborhood contributes to the search.
Feel Good Novel
Bright Lights, Big Christmas is an uplifting novel perfect for reading during the Christmas season. Caring characters serve as a reminder the importance of family and friends. Andrews skill weaving plot and persona results in a page-turning novel sure to please both her long-time fans and those just discovering her writing. I highly recommend Bright Lights, Big Christmas.