Every year on the first day of December, Christopher Byrne traveled from his farm in Nova Scotia to sell his Christmas trees on the streets of Manhattan. But this year there'd be no cheer for the widower and his twelve-year-old daughter, Bridget. For New York City had taken Christy's only son, headstrong sixteen-year-old Danny, who'd run off without a trace.Librarian Catherine Tierney used to love the holidays: the lights, the carols, the nip in the air. But after her husband's death on Christmas Eve three years ago, the festivities seemed to start too early and last too long. Just before he died, Brian told his wife that he'd never leave her, that every Christmas he'd send Catherine a sign. On the quaint Chelsea street where she lives, Catherine will meet the tree seller from Novia Scotia. Both figured the world had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. But they hadn't counted on finding each other, on fate, on second chances. . . and on a holiday gift of new love and new hope to last a lifetime.
A Christmas tree farmer from Nova Scotia and a lonely New York widow come together in this Christmas weepie by bestseller Rice (Beach Girls, etc.). Catherine Tierney, a corporate librarian who lives in a 19th-century townhouse on a quaint street in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, used to love Christmas until her husband, Brian, died of cancer. Each year, she awaits a sign from him that'll let her know he's watching over her. Christy Byrne, a widower from Nova Scotia, is in Manhattan with his 12-year-old daughter, Bridget, to sell his Christmas trees. Every night he leaves his boarding house in Chelsea to go looking for his estranged 16-year-old son, Danny, who ran off the year before. When Danny resurfaces and it's revealed that he's been living on the streets with the help of Catherine and her friend Lizzie, they all realize that their paths have crossed many times, and that they've touched each other's lives more than they could imagine. Thrown together in their shared concern for Danny, Christy and Catherine help each other forget their troubled pasts and move toward the future together. Rice's romanticized vision of Manhattan is sharpened by local detail, and her heartwarming Christmas story will please readers who like a nice dose of pathos with their holiday fare. Agent, Andrea Cirillo at the Rotrosen Agency. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 25, 2004
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Excerpt from Silver Bells by Luanne Rice
All summer long the trees had grown tall and full, roots deep in the rich island soil, branches yearning toward the golden sun. The salt wind had blown in from the east, gilding the pine needles silver. Everyone knew that the best Christmas trees came from the north, with the best of all coming from Nova Scotia, where the stars hung low in the sky. It was said that starlight lodged in the branches, the northern lights charged the needles with magic. Nova Scotia trees were made hardy by the sea and luminous by the stars.
On Cape Breton's Pleasant Bay, in the remote north of Nova Scotia, was a tree farm owned by Christopher Byrne. His family had immigrated to Canada from Ireland when he was a child; they'd answered an ad to work on a Christmas tree farm. It was brutally hard work, and they were very poor, and Christy remembered going to sleep with a gnawing hunger in his belly.
By the time he was twelve, he was six feet tall, growing too fast for the family to afford--and his mother had often sacrificed her own food so her oldest child would have enough to eat. He'd need it to withstand the elements. For the north wind would roar, and Arctic snows would fly, and summer heat would blaze into flash fires, and Christy would work through it all. His mother would ring the dinner bell, to call them home from the field. He loved that sound, for no matter how little they had, his mother would do her best to make sure Christy had more than enough love and almost enough food.
His hunger had made Christy Byrne a fierce worker, and it had given him a wicked drive for success. He saved every penny he made, buying land of his own, using the skills and instincts he'd learned from his father to plant his trees and survive the brutal elements. His mother's love and generosity had made Christy a fine man, and that had made him a good father. He knew he was a good father. It couldn't be in doubt; he had a fire in his heart for his children. So that was why this year, cutting the trees on the mountainside in preparation for going south to sell them, he felt such a storm of hope and confusion.
Every year on the first day of December, Christy drove south to New York City. Hordes of tree salespeople would descend upon the glittering island of Manhattan, from the flatlands of Winnipeg, the snowy forests north of Toronto and east of Quebec, the green woodlands of Vermont and Maine, the lakes of Wisconsin, the lonely peninsulas of Michigan. Their trees would be cut and tied, hauled by flatbed trucks over the brilliant garland bridges spanning the East and Hudson Rivers, offloaded on street corners from Little Italy to Gramercy Park, from Tribeca to Morningside Heights, in the hopes of making a year's worth of income from one month's worth of selling.
A scruffy bunch, the tree salespeople were. Dungarees and Carhartt jackets were their uniform. Some arrived in caravans, like Gypsies, parked their trailers by the curb, and lived out December in the vans' cramped chill, carbon monoxide pumping out along with the meager heat. Some would stick a huge illuminated Santa or snowman on the van roof.