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Review: Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers

Last year I read my very first ever Christmas novellas and shocked myself at how much I enjoyed them. I mean I read a few duds, sure, but I read some real gems as well. And so a couple of weeks ago I found myself eagerly looking forward to rereading a couple of my favorites this holiday season as well as hopefully discovering a few new ones. Happily, the very first new one I read proved to be a home run. I kind of knew it would be, given how much I loved Mary Ann Rivers' debut novella The Story Guy earlier this year. When I heard her next book was a Christmas novella in the Heating up the Holidays anthology, I snatched it up the day it released and snuggled up with my Nook for a little pre-holiday reading. I hadn't read any works by the other two authors in the collection (I actually still haven't read their contributions, though I plan on it at some point), but I can tell you the ebook bundle is utterly worth it for Rivers' story alone.

Jenny Wright was diagnosed right at the most inopportune of times--right after she uprooted her life entirely, moved halfway across the country, and started a new job in a new place. And even after being diagnosed with a rare degenerative eye disease, she chose to stay in her new life. Even though her mother begged her to come back home where she could look after her. Even though her colleagues walked a little more cautiously around her. And even as the days grew shorter and the darkness crept in. The one bright point in those days is the time after she gets home from work and settles in on the couch with her computer. That's when she gets to chat with C. Though they've never actually met, he used to live in the house she currently rents. And when she forwarded a piece of mail on to him, they struck up an online relationship. C is a macro photographer. Most days the two of them talk about his pictures, her thoughts, anything they like. Though their interactions grow more intimate, Jenny knows she can't handle more. She has enough on her plate navigating her work, her occupational therapy, and just getting through each day intact. When her worlds collide, she is wholly unprepared for the fallout.
I think my best bet is to keep still and let the snow fall, let the days get long again, the light return its hours to me, a few more chances a day to figure out what it is I can comfortably keep in front of me and see.

For me, there isn't some miracle cure, this is my life, or my disease will progress and my life will change focus again, and I'll have another new life.

I need C to stay right where he is now because for now, I don't know enough to move from where I am.

My hypothesis is that the light will come back, both outside and inside me.

I'm afraid and angry, but the light is a theory I want to prove.

Until then, I just have to keep the experiment going with as many controls as possible.

One bus, back and forth.

One store.

One man, his words under glass.
Yes. I just knew Ms. Rivers would bring her words. And how beautifully they were voiced through Jenny. I really loved her, you guys. My throat constricted on her behalf from moment to moment. And though I cannot fathom the terror she lived with each day, I know enough of fear to swallow hard at every one of her ruminations on the encroaching darkness. What I love most about Mary Ann Rivers' stories is how with one hand she keeps a ruthless stranglehold on false hope, and with the other she offers the most delicate of joys. I feel both rational and enchanted when I read them. Her writing does not require that I sacrifice either. And so I love it. Which is good, because she brings the sadness and no mistake. Because Jenny's condition is not sugar coated, I worried about getting my hopes up for her future, in general terms as well as with the man in her life. I worried a lot for a single novella. But I loved every page. And there were (as there should be) lovely startling flares of humor as well.
I wonder if he practices making awkward and nerdy look sort of cool. Like he fills his house with furniture that is the wrong scale for his tall body and buys plaid shirts in bulk and tells his barber to leave crazy, too-long pieces of hair mixed in with the regularly cut hair so everything always looks messy.

Then he runs his hands through his hair and puts on his plaid shirts and uses mirrors to watch himself sit in uncomfortable furniture until comfortable furniture looks like it's the one with the problem.
I loved him in the same way Jenny did. Uncertainly. Desperately. In awkward pieces and with a number of reservations. Neither of them faced easy choices and the untenable nature of their situation gave me pause more than once. But as the snow fell, how my love grew. When I think about reading Snowfall, I picture it in soft black and white with the occasional flash of color in the threads of his plaid shirt, in the string of Christmas lights hung with the fierceness of hope for light in the coming year.

Buy

Linkage
Dear Author - "This is sort of a Christmas miracle story, but definitely not one about a miracle cure. "
Random Book Muses - "
I overwhelmingly loved this novella."

Smexy Books - "Mary Ann Rivers’ voice – the way she writes her words makes me sit and flail in my chair."

Comments

  1. I was just thinking I needed more Christmas romances in my life. Can't wait!

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  2. I'm not usually a holiday reader or a big fan of novellas because I always want more. But I really enjoyed your review =) I'll have to give this one a go, it sounds too good to pass up.

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    1. I felt the same way for the longest time. But just recently I've begun to run across some seriously good novellas. Some authors just seem to have a talent for packing enough in to satisfy me. Hope this one works for you!

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  3. I am a devourer of Christmas novellas and romances. It's weird. I think maybe it has to do with how much I love the season itself, and how hopeful I find the idea of Christmas. But yeah, I'm that girl searching the used book store (in June) for Christmas Harlequins of years past. This sounds absolutely perfect, and I can't wait to read it for myself.

    And as always, Angie - beautiful review!

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    1. Are you?! That's awesome. Can you rec me some of your favorites?

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  4. Lovely review, Angie! I grabbed the anthology as soon as I can because I loved The Story Guy. But I'm saving up Snowfall as my Christmas read. :) What are some of your other favorite Christmas novels or novellas? I would love to get more recommendations.

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    1. Okay, so my favorites are currently Courtney Milan's A Kiss for Midwinter, Lisa Kleypas' Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, and now definitely Snowfall. I've got a few more on my TBR for this month, looking to add a few more to the favorites list. I'll let you know how they pan out. :)

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    2. Angie, are these other Christmas novellas stand-alones, or do I need to have read they series that they are part of?

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    3. They are standalones! No prior reading required. :)

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  5. Okay, I will add all of these to my wishlist. Yes, please let me know if you come across any other titles that you end up loving. :)

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  6. I finished "Snowfall" last night, and I am so glad you recommended it! While I loved "The Story Guy" more, I will take any Mary Ann Rivers I can get! Did you know she has a full-length book coming out in (I think) January? I'm so excited!

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    1. Yay! I feel the same way. I need to go back and reread The Story Guy. I did see she has a full-length novel coming out soon! First in a series. Cannot. Wait.

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