Sunday, 26 December 2010

Mrs Miracle - Debbie Macomber

Seth Webster's heart never healed after he lost his adored wife. Now, with Christmas approaching, wild twin boys to raise alone, a home in chaos, and the latest in a long line of exasperated housekeepers quitting in disgust, Seth needs more than help to keep his family togethe...he needs a miracle. 

And then a miracle arrives on his doorstep. Her name is Mrs. Merkle, but the kids call her "Mrs. Miracle"—and from the moment the warm, knowing, and very patient nanny appears, everything is different. Her sassy spirit is infectious, and it gives Seth the courage to approach Reba, a beautiful travel agent who's been hurt and betrayed, and is afraid to ever love again. Through the magic of faith—and with a little help from a children's Christmas pageant and a lot of encouragement from Mrs. Miracle—Seth and Reba might just be able to find a Christmas miracle of their very own: true love.

I was far more impressed with this book than I was with The Shop on Blossom Street, the first novel that I read from this author. Mrs Miracle was the perfect Christmas story, packed full of characters overcoming past hurts and finding love again, as well as mysterious and heartwarming "miracles". 

The premise of this novel is that widower Seth's children are out of control and he's running out of options for a housekeeper when a lovely, grandmotherly woman named Mrs Merkle turns up unexpectedly and sets about organising his children, his home and his love life. His two sons continually call her "Mrs Miracle" and the name sticks. But is she truly a miracle from heaven? She does bring Seth together with Reba, and encourage them to let go of the past and learn to fall in love again. When Seth's in-laws arrive for Christmas she also paves the way to fixing their marital problems. And she still has time to teach the local church busy-body a lesson about gossip and jumping to conclusions!

I loved the device of a mysterious house-keeper who seemed to be an angel in disguise. There was no doubt that the author portrayed her as being heavenly or magical in someway, but the specifics were left up to the reader to decide. It's natural that you have to suspend all reason while reading this novel, but the way in which Mrs Miracle helps all of the characters isn't particularly predictable or cheesy. Just the right amount of romance and sentimentalism! Obviously all of the characters have happy endings, but they experience realistic heartaches and difficulties before they reach satisfaction. I appreciated that Macomber not only focused on the young couple, Seth and Reba, but also on Seth's in-laws, who were experiencing problems in their marriage despite being together for forty years. Both young and more mature readers have someone they can relate to, and I felt it was important to show that anyone can have relationship problems, irregardless of age. On a lighter note, there was plenty of humour in the form of a self-righteous, gossipy older lady from the church, who does have a part to play in the main story, even if she seems a bit out of place to begin with. 

All in all, I found this to be a surprisingly realistic novel considering the almost magical premise. If you're an old romantic like me then you're sure to love this, especially if you like a twist on the typical love story. With excellent characters and a sprinkling of humour and heart-ache, this novel was simply perfect for the Christmas season. There were only a couple of moments when I felt the story was getting too cheesy, and one almost racy situation that seemed a bit out of place, but this didn't spoil the novel for me. 9/10

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