Title: The Noel Stranger
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Genre: Fiction, Holiday Fiction (352 pages)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2018)
A few thoughts: Agnetha (Maggie) has been through the mill. Her husband is a bigamist, and has a second family, she is feeling shunned by the public after her divorce, and she can’t find the desire to go and run her business. I have had days like these where the world feels like it’s crashing down and you just want to hide under the covers, but you can’t. At the advice of her best friend, she gets out of her house. I could really empathize with this moment: loneliness is one of the scariest feelings in the world, especially at the holiday time.
Enter Andrew – the attractive Christmas tree lot owner, with secrets of his own. I don’t want to give anything away because I try really hard not to reveal any spoilers in my posts/reviews, but I don’t know that I saw this secret coming. Often I see what drama is about to unfold. Andrew has a few, less apparent, demons of his own and I love the symmetry between he and Maggie. Both have been betrayed by their spouses and are struggling to learn to trust again. Trust is everything, and if it isn’t there, then the relationship can’t exist. I am, however, insanely jealous of these characters because they get to go to Cabo San Lucas! Not fair! I have been DYING to go to Cabo.
I read this book over the course of two weeks (approximately. I am totally a member of the #SlowReadersClub), but I loved it nonetheless! I’m a daily commuter, and this was my morning train book. I usually try to match the mood of the book to my morning playlist, and while I was reading the ending of the book, I was practically in tears from the emotion of the situation and the voice of Ben Platt in his song “Older“. The lyrics might not have anything to do with the story, but just the sounds and the notes playing in the chorus were emotional rhythms. Click the link and give it a listen! I am a huge fan of all things Richard Paul Evans, so I encourage you to check out some of his books if you have never read anything by him before. Pro tip! Always have a notebook handy because I find myself writing down passages from his books that I want to remember later on.
Read below for the description of The Noel Stranger as told by the dust jacket:
Maggie Walther feels like her world is imploding. Publicly humiliated after her husband, a local councilman, is arrested for bigamy and her subsequent divorce, she decides to isolate herself from the world. When her only friend insists that Maggie climb out of her hole and embrace the season to emerge from her funk, she reluctantly decides to put up a Christmas tree and heads off to buy one.
She is immediately taken by Andrew, the kind, handsome man who owns the Christmas tree lot and delivers her tree. She soon learns that Andrew is single and new to the city, and is also, like her, starting his life afresh. As their friendship develops, Maggie slowly begins to trust again — something she never thought possible. Then, just when she thinks she’s finally found happiness, she discovers a dark secret from Andrew’s past. Is there more to this stranger than meets the eye?
This powerful new holiday novel from Richard Paul Evans, the “King of Christmas fiction” (New York Times), explores redemption, faith, and the true power of the season.