Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah
Published by Ballantine Books
Publish Date: January 1, 2005
Source: Book – Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon
Joy Candellaro once loved Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she is at a crossroads in her life; recently divorced and alone, she can’t summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. When an unexpected detour takes her deep into the woods of the Olympic rainforest, Joy makes a bold decision to leave her ordinary life behind–to just walk away–and thus begins an adventure unlike any she could have imagined.
In the small town of Rain Valley, six-year-old Bobby O’Shea is facing his first Christmas without a mother. Unable to handle the loss, Bobby has closed himself off from the world, talking only to his invisible best friend. His father Daniel is beside himself, desperate to help his son cope. Yet when the little boy meets Joy, these two unlikely souls form a deep and powerful bond. In helping Bobby and Daniel heal, Joy finds herself again.
But not everything is as it seems in quiet Rain Valley, and in an instant, Joy’s world is ripped apart, and her heart is broken. On a magical Christmas Eve, a night of impossible dreams and unexpected chances, Joy must find the courage to believe in a love–and a family–that can’t possibly exist, and go in search of what she wants . . . and the new life only she can find. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts: I think Comfort and Joy is a few parts suspend-your-disbelief and a few parts predictable, but I love that there is a ton of Christmas and holiday written into this story because that more than made up for the gigantic, unexpected plot twist that nearly made me fall out of my chair while I was reading…
Joy feels so betrayed by her husband’s affair with her sister that it is seeping into every part of her life, including how she feels about the holidays. On a whim, she buys a plane ticket to a random faraway place and decides to just go. But! before she arrives at her destination, the plane crashes. Joy survives, but walks away from the site, almost in a daze. She literally walks until she reaches a lodge manned by a little boy, Bobby, and his father, Danny. Joy checks in and decides to stay for a while.
Over the next few days, she befriends Bobby, learning that he very recently lost his mother. The child is grieving and warms easily to Joy. His father is a different story – a bit rougher around the edges – but over time, he too begins to warm to Joy. She is drawn to this boy and his father, and while she feels an uncertainty about this and while she knows that she will have to return home, she can’t help but feel feelings toward this man. This is the kind of life Joy would love to have, right here in this lodge, with a family like this.
HOWEVER! There is an eventual plot twist that dropped in from absolutely nowhere. Nowhere! And boom, just like that I felt nearly-slapped but I also turned the pages very quickly to see if there would some sort of resolution that would make me happy.
Comfort and Joy had me withholding my judgment over and over, with regard to big things like the relationship between Joy and her sister after Joy’s marriage was broken, with regard to the ease with which Joy settled into the lodge as if she lived there rather than vacationed there, with the ending. I mean, I’m thankful for the ending, but –
– let’s just say that last part of the book had me obsessing over this story. Not that the story was super-phenomenal (that’s not a jab at the story), but because I wanted it to end a certain way. I’m happy with the ending, yes. But because there is magic thrown in here and there throughout this book (have I mentioned that yet?), I did have to read it and accept it like it is instead of pick it apart.
We cannot pick apart stories that are magical, friends. We have to suspend our disbelief and exhale and that’s that.
And yes, I’m purposefully being vague because everyone hates spoilers.
This was a good story. I’m not sure that this is one of the best Christmas stories that I’ve ever read, but I was certainly entertained by it and I love the way that the plot twist had me on edge. I picked up this book thinking that it was a holiday romance, but it ended up being much more than that.
I would recommend Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah to readers that enjoy holiday/Christmas stories, stories about forgiveness and character redemption, family relationships, and romance.
Adult Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Romance: No triangle.