The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton

There’s a tendency for Christmas novels to dwell on its joyful, glittery aspect, but here is one with a difference. It deals with the darker side of Christmas – the side experienced by lonely, deprived and ill people, the homeless and the bereaved, who find this time of good cheer and happiness hard to bear.

Our hero is Skip who lost his family in a Christmas Eve fire. He was at a boring office party and so escaped the same fate. However, he’s consumed by guilt and falls apart, ending up on the streets. He makes up his mind to commit suicide on the anniversary of the deaths of Tabitha his wife and Derek his son, but bumps into an assortment of warm-hearted, selfless people who start to test his resolve. It takes a visit to The Santa Shop in Gray, Vermont, to point Skip towards making the right decision.

This is a sad book but it’s also joyful. You see the depths of human despair and people at their worst, but also people at their caring, generous best. Skip’s journey is tough physically and mentally but it’s as enlightening for the reader as it is for him.

A really amazing, thought-provoking book. You have to read it.

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