By Richard Paul Evans
Published October 6, 2009 (Hardcover) Simon & Schuster
Take a modern-day Scrooge, add in economic tragedies from the front pages, blend in Richard Paul Evans’ gift for writing Christmas stories, and you have a recipe that you will enjoy — with a requisite packet of tissues. Evans’ latest, The Christmas List, tells the story of a real estate mogul’s personal reckoning after he financially screws old friends, young women, couples with dreams, and family members. No one is safe, if they have something that James Kier wants.
It’s tricky business, seducing the reader to care for a nasty character like Kier, but Dickens managed it in A Christmas Carol, and Evans does, too, in The Christmas List.
Evans mentions in his novel the story of the origin of the Nobel Peace Prize, and he successfully employs a similarly effective device. Kier opens the newspaper to discover his own obituary — obviously a premature notice. Then he discovers what people are saying about him. He is shaken to his core when he reads online comments about the kind of character he had become.
And he requests the woman who knows his business and his life the best, Linda, his secretary, to assemble a list of the people he had most grievously wronged. That’s the Christmas list. He attempts to make amends, and the results are sad, satisfying, and eye-opening. Kier’s redemption through this process is troubling and heart-warming. He has ruined lives – on purpose — how can he ever truly restore what he has destroyed?
Comprehension and transformation cause tears – it is so intensely beautiful to witness people connecting with their best possible being. Discovering who they truly are. This major soulful ah-ha! I witnessed it watching kids play piano and sing with entertainer Michael Allen Harrison on Christmas Eve in the Old Church in downtown Portland. The moment the artists’ music matched that soul place was electrifying. And I sat in the second pew, face damp. I was searching for information about service dogs for people who are bipolar – for my older son – and came upon this video about one service dog and her true calling. It so beautifully, dramatically, and cleanly connects, that, again, tears surprised me. And now, The Christmas List.
I cried buckets. Evans has this effect on me — at least his books do . He’ll be on my show — Open Book with Diana Page Jordan — on Monday, live at 1pm Pacific. Listen live or download the podcast later.