Review | The Christmas Postcards, by Karen Swan

XmasPostcardsWhen Natasha’s toddler daughter Mabel accidentally leaves her beloved toy cow Moolah behind at an AirBnB in Vienna, Natasha turns to social media for help. Thanks to a friend with a family member who works for Harry Styles (!), the post goes viral, and soon, a man named Duffy, who’s trekking the Himalayas, responds with a note to Mabel a photograph of Moolah having the adventure of her life. Soon, Natasha and Mabel find themselves looking forward to Duffy’s emails, and despite knowing nothing about the man, Natasha finds herself increasingly drawn towards the kind stranger.

The Christmas Postcards is a really sweet, heartwarming, and feel-good book. It’s hard not to get drawn into Moolah’s story, as Duffy photographs the toy cow atop a mule, perched on his shoulder, and hanging out on mountain trails. In his emails with Natasha and Mabel, the question arises whether or not Moolah will get to jump over the moon like the cow in the rhyme, and even as an adult, it’s all-too-easy to get sucked into the same childlike wonder and hope, against all odds, that Duffy will somehow manage to make it happen.

There’s a somewhat somber emotional tug to that aspect of the plot as well, since Moolah reminds Duffy of Moodle, a toy cow his beloved sister once owned. The story behind Duffy’s family is gradually revealed, but even from the beginning, there are hints of tragedy that make Moolah’s appearance in his life especially meaningful.

The story does require a bit of suspension of disbelief at times. The plot hinges on a rather massive coincidence that’s easy enough to guess from the start, and that readers must be willing to chalk up to fate in order to get sucked in. Late in the book, Natasha is revealed to make a decision at the end of her hen weekend that I personally found frustrating. The decision was the result of a miscommunication that could’ve been resolved with a bit of patience, but most frustrating is that I think the reasons for her decision were flimsy, even with the miscommunication.

And finally, there’s a big reveal near the end acts as a deux ex machina that resolves a major conflict. The ease with which it resolves the conflict feels a bit anti-climactic, but I’m willing to let that pass because of the overall feel-good tone of the book. My bigger problem with it is that it involves a rather melodramatic twist that the story tries to explain but remains a bit of a stretch anyway.

Still, overall this was a lovely read, and a nice, comforting break.

+

Thanks to Publishers Group Canada for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

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