HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Christmas Secret: Will an 1880 Christmas Eve Wedding Be Cancelled by Revelations in an Old Diary?
Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press, republished 2016
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Brunstetter, Wanda E. The Christmas Secret: Will an 1880 Christmas Eve Wedding Be Cancelled by Revelations in an Old Diary? (originally published in 2011, republished in 2016 by Shiloh Run Press, a division of Barbour Publishing Inc., P. O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683). It is 1880, and Elizabeth Canning lives in Allentown, PA, with her father Charles and her stepmother Abigail. Her mother had died when she was eight. Elizabeth is engaged to David Stinner, whose own father is dead, so he lives with his mother and grandfather. The young couple plans to be married on Elizabeth’s birthday, which is Christmas Eve, and start life in the same little cabin where her maternal grandparents had lived before moving to Easton and where her own parents had lived prior to her mother’s death.
Then one day in early November, while cleaning the cabin to prepare for the wedding, Elizabeth finds a diary written by her mother’s sister, Aunt Lovina Hess from whom no one has heard in years, and discovers in it a horrible family secret which leads her to conclude that she can never marry David. So she leaves him a letter cancelling their engagement without explaining why and runs off to stay with her paternal grandparents in Cooperstown. David is confused by this letter and does not understand why Elizabeth called off their wedding. What is this secret? Can David find the truth about the past? And what will Elizabeth do?
My wife first read this story in a larger book, A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, published in 2011, and really liked it, so I decided to read it. The Christmas Secret has now been republished as a separate book, although it is more like a novella than a full length novel. There are references to a possible out of wedlock pregnancy. It is all handled very discreetly and tastefully, but parents might not want to do this as a family read aloud with small children. However, it is a sweet tale that is easy to read and contains nice messages about trust in God, the importance of prayer, good family relationships, the need for forgiveness, and the power of true love.