Book Review: Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb—and a Giveaway!

Nora Bonesteel's Christmas PastNora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past
A Ballad Novella
Sharyn McCrumb
Abingdon Press, October 2014
ISBN 978-1-4267-5421-0  Hardcover

From the publisher—

When someone buys the old Honeycutt house, Nora Bonesteel is glad to see some life brought back to the old mansion, even if it is by summer people. But when they decide to stay through Christmas, they find more than old memories in the walls.

On Christmas Eve, Sheriff Spencer Arrowood and Deputy Joe LeDonne find themselves on an unwelcome call to arrest an elderly man for a minor offense. As they attempt to do their duty, while doing the right thing for a neighbor, it begins to look like they may all spend Christmas away from home.

Two companion stories that really are not related except that a few of the people know each other and they’re in the same mountain location offer a brief but gentle look at the Christmas season. Sheriff Spencer Arrowood and his deputy, Joe LeDonne, are tasked with arresting a traffic offender on Christmas Eve with snow approaching and the elderly Nora Bonesteel, who has the Sight, is asked by a “snowbird” neighbor to find out why peculiar things are happening with her Christmas decorations.

Both stories, on the surface, would seem to be rather simplistic and they actually are but there’s a kernel of meaning in each that reflects the best of home and hearth, so to speak. At times, the stories drag a little but it’s nice to spend time again with Nora and the Sheriff and Joe (as cranky and cynical as the last might be) and absorb some of the Appalachian sensibility Sharyn McCrumb conveys so well. Is there mystery here or perhaps fantasy? Yes, in a very mild way, but it’s far more about the characters and the setting. The appeal is in these people and their community and I always enjoy returning to Appalachia and, in particular, to Ashe Mountain.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.


To enter the drawing for a hardcover
copy of Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past
by Sharyn McCrumb, leave a comment
below. The winning name will be drawn
Tuesday evening, November 25th.
This drawing is open to residents of the US.

18 thoughts on “Book Review: Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb—and a Giveaway!

  1. Sharyn McCrumb’s ballad stories are among my favorites. She makes me miss the people and the landscape of a place I love, and at the same time makes me feel as though I’m home again.


  2. I had sort of forgotten about Nora Bonesteel. I wonder if there has a gap in the books or if I just haven’t run across them for awhile. Would love to win this one!


  3. Nora Bonesteel is a wonderful character – strong and sill and sadly aware of so many things. I remember in one book she referred to rolling death, coming for a long time. (My paraphrasing is probably off, but that’s my memory of it.) The expression has stuck with me.


  4. I haven’t read any books in this series but after seeing your review I need to add it to my to be read list. Thanks for a great review and pointing out how two stories are not related but yet have some common factors.


  5. Another unknown (to me) writer who has flare for creating a believable mystery. Appreciate opportunity to learn about background and would appreciate being considered to read & review.


  6. This is a terrific series and Ms McCrumb makes me want to move to the mountains and live near Nora, just so I can learn all the important things in life from her.


  7. I have enjoyed reading all of McCrumb’s books, and Nora is a character that always intrigued me. Looking forward to reading this book also.


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