A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman
Moody Press, 2011
Why? My first Net Galley review...I love the original A Christmas Carol and this sounded like an interesting retelling of the story.
What now? No need to purchase a hard copy of this one
When I looked up we were nearing a curve, and through the haze and blowing snow I noticed two headlights bearing down on us like our oncoming future. I couldn't scream, couldn't speak, just threw out a hand and pointed.
Instinct. His foot to the pedal. Steering wheel one way, then the other. Fishtailing. A truck's air horn. Jacob reached out for me.
Out of control.
A snow globe shaken and dropped.
Marlee and Jacob Ebeneezer are on their way to their lawyer's office in a snowstorm to sign their divorce papers on Christmas Eve. An accident carries Marlee and Jacob through the past, present and possible futures of their lives depending on their impending divorce.
What I Liked:
I'm a fan of A Christmas Carol and enjoy watching and reading the many different ways the story can be told. I was intrigued by the synopsis I read on Net Galley and downloaded it because of that alone. I'd never heard of the book before then.
The description of the snow, the couple driving and snarking with each other on the way to the lawyer's office was the most vivid scene to me. I think any couple has moments like these.
The little twist at the end when Marlee meets the old man's wife...I didn't see this coming and it was a pleasant surprise since I had already decided I wasn't crazy about this version.
The images of Marlee and Jacob's early life together and how their relationship changed over time. For anyone who is in a later stage of their marriage, these scenes will be true to heart. The early, lovey dovey years, the hectic years when the kids are babies, and the growing years as the kids begin to make their own way and you find yourselves looking back toward each other again hit close to home for me.
Like the original A Christmas Carol, the book is very short. This was very important to me once I started skimming. I'm one of those people who has a hard time putting a book away once I've started reading it. The knowledge that the story was a quick one was enough to keep me going.
What I Didn't Like:
As good of a message this is, the story itself is too predictable for me to "like." The story is a faith based story, but the authors almost hit the reader over the head with religious tropes. I am a Christian, but I think some readers, who may really need to hear the overall message of this book, could be turned off by the preaching early on. Even I skimmed through a lot of it.
I thought Marlee was too calm for a woman whose husband/soon to be ex-husband was out lost in the snowstorm after the accident. Even though they were on their way to be divorced, I didn't see her sitting around "waiting" on what to do next. If someone is lost in a snowstorm, seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
Marlee was the only one who actually experienced the Christmas scenes from the past, present and future. From the synopsis, I expected them to go through that together. I was actually looking forward to that. Marriage takes two...and in any situation where a marriage is splitting apart, it is usually not a one-sided ordeal (except, of course, in extreme cases). In this story Marlee seemed to be the one who wanted the divorce...all bc of an old flame from high school who drank a lot of Coors? Again, too obvious and a ridiculous example. When Marlee saw her future with the high school dude demanding for her to bring him another beer, I had visions of the movie The Urban Cowboy where Debra Winger's character is living with the ex-convict after leaving John Travolta. She comes in from the grocery story and throws a pack of cigarettes at him; he takes her by the hair and makes her pick the carton of cigarettes up. I actually rolled my eyes when I read this part of the story. The obvious made the story feel on purpose and rushed and cheesy.
Um, the melting snow as the visual for the scenes from the past, present and future was pretty silly and "magical" to me...unbelievable. Good grief.
Marlee was worried that she might have gotten into a car with a serial killer, but she wasn't all that worried about being alone with an older many she's just met in his home during the night of a snowstorm. Huh? Again, completely unrealistic.
This book was just ok to me...I do realize that it may very well be a wake-up call for some couples. Can this book stop a divorce...probably not. But, maybe, especially around the holidays, it might remind a husband and/or wife of all that they have together. Maybe. I also couldn't help but wondering what a great story this could have been had some of the simpler issues been worked out and even developed into a much richer storyline. If the authors don't have time to develop a story worth reading, what's the point?
This little book might be a helpful gift for a couple in trouble who have a lot more together than they do apart...and just need a reminder.
I don't review negatively much, and I always feel bad when I do...just because I didn't like this story doesn't mean someone else won't.
FTC Disclosure: An e-copy of A Marriage Carol was sent to me free of charge from the publisher through Net Galley. All opinions are my own.