Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Advent Reads Day 15: The First Christmas: A Story of New Beginnings by Stephen Mitchell

 Welcome to Advent Reads!

This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!

Synopsis: "In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.

In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 bce might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.

Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale."

My Review:  Like usual, I have been on a hunt for new Christmas stories, this one had me really intrigued. I have to say this was the most unique, yet familiar Christmas book I have come across to date! While this does tell the traditional Christmas story of Jesus' birth, it is a completely new take on it, and honestly may not be the best choice for hardcore Christians, but I found it a very interesting read. It tells the story of the birth of Jesus, from various perspectives not the usual way you hear the story told. It also really gives some food for thought as Mitchell examines what the characters of the Nativity could have possibly been thinking and processing at the time about without the long held beliefs and knowledge of the full Bible story. This was truly a unique book and one I plan on revisiting with a pen and a pad of paper to jot down my own thoughts. It may not be for everyone as I said before but at least give it a try, if for nothing else then just for the ox and donkey's perspectives.

My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, the old familiar story with a new perspective and view, it was rather refreshing to me.  As I said before, it may not appeal to everyone, especially those who cherish the Christian Christmas Nativity story but I hope some of you are open minded enough to give it a try, I give it a rating of Four Paws.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Stephen Mitchell and his books on his Goodreads page or Website

The First Christmas was just released on November 9th so you can pick up your own copy now in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or check at with your local library or bookstore, they will be happy to track down a copy for you.

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