Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini celebrates Christmas, past and present, with a wondrous novel inspired by the classic poem "Christmas Bells," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day/ Their old familiar carols play/ And wild and sweet/ The words repeat/Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

In 1860, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family celebrated Christmas at Craigie House, their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The publication of Longfellow's classic Revolutionary War poem, "Paul Revere's Ride," was less than a month hence, and the country's grave political unrest weighed heavily on his mind. Yet with his beloved wife, Fanny, and their five adored children at his side, the delights of the season prevailed.

In present-day Boston, a dedicated teacher in the Watertown public school system is stunned by somber holiday tidings. Sophia's music program has been sacrificed to budget cuts, and she worries not only about her impending unemployment but also about the consequences to her underprivileged students. At the church where she volunteers as music director, Sophia tries to forget her cares as she leads the children's choir in rehearsal for a Christmas Eve concert. Inspired to honor a local artist, Sophia has chosen a carol set to a poem by Longfellow, moved by the glorious words he penned one Christmas Day long ago, even as he suffered great loss.

Christmas Bells chronicles the events of 1863, when the peace and contentment of Longfellow's family circle was suddenly, tragically broken, cutting even deeper than the privations of wartime. Through the pain of profound loss and hardship, Longfellow's patriotism never failed, nor did the power of his language. "Christmas Bells," the poem he wrote that holiday, lives on, spoken as verse and sung as a hymn.

Jennifer Chiaverini's resonant and heartfelt novel for the season reminds us why we must continue to hear glad tidings, even as we are tested by strife. Reading Christmas Bells evokes the resplendent joy of a chorus of voices raised in reverent song.
Publisher: New York, New York : Dutton, c2015
ISBN: 9780525955245
Branch Call Number: FIC Chia
Characteristics: 317 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
ArapahoeKati Nov 21, 2017

I loved the dual narrative, plus a great blend of historical fiction with contemporary.

Wolfespearl Nov 06, 2016

Wasn't able to get to this one when it was released last year, so glad I was able to get an early start on some of my Christmas reads, with this one. It's been awhile since I've read Chiaverini, so it was a pleasure to enjoy one of her books again. I enjoyed learning some of Longfellow's history. I had not known that the words for the Christmas Bells song came from his poem. The backdrop of the civil war, contrasted with the war in Afghanistan clearly showed that war never changes, it always is stressful for families left to cope on their own.

Jan 12, 2016

I knew this was going to be a lovely warm spirited read when I opened the book to find old fashioned end papers that had pictures of bells! Two stories are told simultaneously, one set in the past, while the other is present day. Both sets of characters have their problems and disappointments but the Civil War story of Longfellow and his family shines the brightest. For fans of "The Gift" this book will surely please.

Jan 01, 2016

A wonderful heart-warming, thought-provoking story. I enjoyed it very much.

Dec 01, 2015

Not as good as some of her previous novels. Longfellow's storyline really doesn't have anything to do with the modern storyline. The two stories unfold by switching back and forth every other chapter. Was distracting more than anything. I would read several chapters of one story and skip sections of the book and return to read chapters of the other story with no problem.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at PLYMC

To Top