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A Redbird Christmas is a miraculous book.
It’s a deliberately old-fashioned feel-good story, and it contains all the elements that usually make people feel a little queasy at this time of year, but it’s written with such skill and clear good intentions that it not only pulls off the trick, but it even squeezed a tear from one of the hoariest old cynics I know. That’s quite a trick.
Fannie Flagg is probably best known in England for her previous book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, which was made into a wonderful film in 1991, with a host of great performances.
The full package
A Redbird Christmas has everything. A magical location called Lost River in Southern Alabama, a man who has been told he won’t live past Christmas, a little crippled girl, an injured red bird that lives in the local store, and a gaggle of women who set about fixing up everything and everyone.
There’s unrequited love, an old feud, a postman who delivers letters by boat, a huge emphasis on good home cooking and the importance of love and marriage and doing good works, a little bit of tragedy and a miraculous Christmas denouement.
Hooked after a couple of pages
It’s normally the kind of book that I would run a mile from, but it was recommended to me and I tried it out. After a couple of pages I was hooked. Hollywood used to make films like It’s a Wonderful Life, and Dickens wrote well-loved stories with all the same elements.
A Redbird Christmas deserves to be mentioned in the same breath, and would make a wonderful family Christmas film too.
It would be easy to write a similar story that would make people reach for the sick bucket, and it’s hellishly difficult to manage to take all these ingredients and bake them into something delightful rather than a sickly indigestible mess.
It will leave you grinning from ear to ear
Fannie Flagg is masterful here, gently caressing the heartstrings and adding just enough pepper in amongst the sugar. There’s a lot of humour, and she has such a light touch that you’re seduced, and you can sit back, suspend your cynical disbelief and allow yourself to have a wonderful read that will leave you grinning from ear to ear afterwards.