Reviews for Christmas Box : Anniversary Edition

Kirkus Reviews 1995 September
~ This reverent little domestic tale, originally self-published, gets its second holiday chance to wring out tears and ring up sales. A Utah businessman named Richard (he's in formal wear rental), his wife Keri, and four-year-old daughter Jenna become a second family to Mary, an aging widow who lets them live rent-free in her big old Victorian mansion if they'll cook for her and help out around the house. Kind and sweet Mary, though, has secrets in her past, which workaholic Richard gradually becomes aware of in spite of his absorbingly busy pre-holiday schedule at the storewith the help of recurring angel-dreams and nighttime strains of music from the attic. When Mary is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and begins to die, things move more swiftly toward a Christmas Day conclusion that will offend some, amuse others, and doubtless, as it apparently did its first time around the block, move many to new tears of piety. Those who may wish, meanwhile, can find stylistic enjoyment as well, in such phrasings, say, as: `` `This should be interesting,' I decided''; ``Jenna smiled hungrily''; `` `There's bound to be a lot of history in a place like this,' he said thoughtfully''; or in these words of a kindly physician: ``I know that's not very reassuring, but it's reality.'' (First printing of 750,000; Book-of-the-Month/Quality paper alternate selection) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews 1995 October #2
Self-published in paperback during the Christmas season 1994, Evans's first novel quickly gained national media attention. Now the cleverly told tale, which the author reputedly wrote for his daughters and which revels in sentimentality, is available in hardcover. The story relates how a young couple, Richard (who narrates) and Keri, accept a position to care for a lonely widow, Mary Parkin, in her spacious Victorian mansion. As Christmas draws near, Mary becomes anxious about Richard's obsession with success and his failure to make time for his family. She urges him to reconsider his priorities, but he is always too busy to heed her advice. It is only when Mary is on her deathbed and her secret sorrow is revealed through the letter-laden Christmas box of the title that Richard realizes what she has been trying to tell him. The message concerns love, of course, and the strings Evans pulls to vivify it should squeeze sobs from even the stoniest of hearts. It's notable, however, that unlike many well-known Christmas tales (such as Dickens's), which carry that message in a basically nonsectarian manner, this is steeped in specific Christian imagery and belief as the author draws on the drama of Jesus as God's sacrifice for the world's sins, and of his crucifixion and resurrection. 750,000 first printing; BOMC, QPB, BOMC Homestyle Book Club, BOMC Craft Books Club, BOMC Children's Book Club alternates; simultaneous S & S audio and S & S Libros En Espanol edition; author tour. (Nov.) Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information.