A Nantucket shopkeeper falls for one of the island’s wealthiest bachelors in this Christmas season feel-good tale.
The novel begins as Christina Antonioni prevents a 9-year-old girl from shoplifting stickers from her Nantucket toy shop. Christina strikes a bargain with the sullen girl, who introduces herself as Wink, convincing the child to come back and work in the store for a short period. If Wink returns, Christina will pay her the meager sum required to purchase the stickers. Wink not only returns, but is so disarming that Christina offers her a regular job. It turns out Wink is the granddaughter of Oscar Bittlesman, one of the richest men on Nantucket. When Wink’s mother visits the store with her brother, Andy, Christina feels an instant attraction to him. She attempts to talk herself out of the crush, relying on internal dialogue that she refers to throughout the story, somewhat artlessly, as her “Inner Christina.” However, Andy takes an interest in her and wears down her defenses. “Her Inner Christina told her she absolutely could not count on this evening amounting to anything at all, but here with him now, so close that they could reach out and touch, all common sense floated away.” Then Christina receives a letter from Andy’s father stating that he’s purchased the buildings on the wharf and will be raising the rent. Christina and the other shopkeepers decide to band together to change Oscar’s mind. Only if she successfully challenges Oscar will Christina ever feel secure in a relationship with his son. As usual, Thayer’s novel is so full of details about life on Nantucket that the island becomes its own character. Several moments are so sweet they’ll make your teeth hurt, but the holiday feasts, caroling, and general Christmas spirit help the novel fall squarely within its genre of satisfying Christmas romances. Told in a plot-focused, accessible prose, the book maintains its lighthearted tone throughout, never delving too deeply into Christina’s feelings toward her own family, her friendships with the other shopkeepers, or the classist attitudes of her friends.
A wholesome Christmas tale full of adorable characters and unexpected kindnesses.