Rob Edwards’ Christmas fantasy centers on a widower grieving for his wife and unwilling to try to find happiness again.
Cheri Porter celebrated every holiday, even small ones. Valentine’s Day meant champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, St. Pat’s was a trip to an Irish pub, and July 4th meant fireworks. But more than any other holiday, Cheri loved Christmas. Celebrations began Black Friday with holiday music and decorations, followed by the Saturday Christmas kick-off party for family and friends. Now, Cheri has been dead from uterine cancer for nearly a year and her husband, Ellis, is left to face the holiday alone.
He rejects his daughter’s invitations to visit, and when a neighbor arrives with cookies on Dec. 23, he tells her, “I don’t want your damn cookies, Ellen.” He hopes to sleep through the holiday with the help of prescription sleeping pills. But, after going to bed early that night, he’s awakened by his old border collie, Rhubarb, and cat, Strawberry, and the strangeness begins.
In a series of what seem like dreams directed by Rhubarb and Strawberry, Ellis is magically transported to four different locations where he inhabits the body of an animal, each situation involving a person needing help. The fourth person is in critical need, and Ellis becomes desperate to find the woman in the real world and save her.
The story begins on a poignant note, creating empathy for Ellis and a great sense of the happy, lovable woman he misses. The tone then makes an abrupt change, becoming more hopeful and fantastical as Ellis transitions to various animal forms, while Rhubarb and Strawberry try to help him revive his life. Although talking animals can tend to be too cute, the intention here is sincere and the sentiment, given the season, apt.
Warmly told, at times humorous and always compassionate, this tale will resonate with anyone who loves the holiday season, animals and a message of hope.
Also available in ebook and audio book.