New novel is warm offering for the holiday season

“’Tis the Season!” by Lorna Landvik, c. 2008, Ballantine Books, $22, 226 pages.

The Bookworm

“’Tis the Season!” by Lorna Landvik, c. 2008, Ballantine Books, $22, 226 pages.

You never meant to do it.

You were out with friends, that’s all, just having a little cheer. The waiter brought you a glass of something bubbly and in between reminiscing and laughter, the glass was emptied so you had another. You took a wee nip from that one ‘til you nipped it clear to the bottom.

And the morning after, you’re wondering what happened the night before.

If heiress Caroline Dixon wants to know how the party went, she looks in the gossip pages. Her every move is in there, perfect fodder for the tabloids because Caro is a walking, talking scandal. In the new novel, “’Tis the Season!” by Lorna Landvik, it seems as if Caro is the person America loves to hate most.

Caroline Dixon’s life is a wreck. Most of her friends have been driven away by Caro’s sharp tongue and her family is horrified by her partying and carousing. Caro makes the tabloids on a regular basis; so much, in fact, that she’s at the top of the Most Unadmired Man and Woman in America list. Even the few people who cared about Caro once, don’t care any more.

That is, except two people who knew Caroline many years ago.

Astrid Brevald was once Caroline’s nanny, back when Caro was a young girl with a chip on her shoulder. She remembers Caro as a funny child and very loving despite her parents’ indifference. Now, there’s a message in Astrid’s in-box. It’s Caroline, on Step No. 8 of her Twelve-Step Program, apologizing for any hurt she may have caused in the past.

On the other side of the world, Cyril Dale gets a similar e-mail. Cyril and his late wife ran a ranch for many years and 14-year-old Caroline Dixon was once a temporary resident, shipped to the ranch one summer for asking too many questions as her father lay dying of cancer. Even then, she had a sharp tongue but Cyril remembers a sweet girl with attitude hiding a breaking heart.

Not wanting to spend Christmas with only his horses as company, Cyril invites Caroline and Astrid to come to the ranch for an old-fashioned family holiday on the mesa. But he has a surprise gift for the two women, one that almost makes the season a reason for very hurt feelings.

Do your kids clamor for a new Christmas book to be read aloud each Yuletide? While you’re looking for a book for them, get this one for yourself and start your very own personal tradition.

Through a series of e-mails and gossip columns, “’Tis the Season!” unfolds as Caroline gains the respect of long-lost friends as well as herself. Landvik knows how to tell a story and this flurry-of-messages in book form is a definite delight for old fans and new ones.

“’Tis the Season!” is a book you can read faster than a 5-year-old can rip the paper off a present and I think you’ll like it. ‘Tis a wonderful Christmas story to curl up with this year.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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