Battle (Storyville, 1993, etc.) gives ""home for the holidays"" an appealingly accomplished update as a very contemporary family gathers reluctantly for Christmas at their mother's southern B&B. Josie Tatternall had been a loyal military wife, taking care of the kids on her own, bravely moving a score of times, and never forgetting to wear white gloves when calling on the commander's wife. But the loyalty came at a price: Husband ""Bear"" was unfaithful, spent money on other women, and ruined his career by having an affair with the wife of a top officer. Once out of the service, the hard-drinking Bear has no choice but to go along with Josie's decision to move back to her hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina, and open a B&B. He dies soon after, and the couple's three daughters grow up and go their separate ways. Now in her 70s, Josie decides to get her children together again for Christmas. The three have quarrelled with one another, and, with one exception, their mother. Cam, her father's favorite, is an editor in New York; Lila has married a prosperous local man and plays the good-daughter role to the hilt; and Evie writes a Savannah newspaper column where she rehashes complaints about her family and her childhood. The sisters arrive, psychic baggage in hand, and immediately things fall apart. Cam quarrels with both Josie and Lila and leaves; Lila, jealous of Cam and bored with her husband, has an uncharacteristic fling; and Evie goes off with Lila's rich father-in-law, leaving Josie to pick up the pieces. In the year that follows, Josie, to her surprise, and despite a few tough phone calls, finds love and understanding with the girls. All those wistful and unrealistic hopes for family closeness at Christmas are detailed acutely in a literate, witty, and affectionate tale that's perfect to curl up with at home, or, better yet, in a B&B.