The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story
By Alice Duer Miller
Read: 19 – 23 November 2010
E-book from Project Gutenberg
2010 Holiday Reading Challenge
*This review contains spoilers*
Despite the title this novella from the 1800s does not feel very christmassy. Several holiday homes of rich owner have been broken into, and when Geoffrey Holland's sister becomes the burglar's latest victim, Geoffrey travels up to his house to check on it. When he arrives he catches the thief in his library and discoveres that he went to school with him years ago. Geoffrey is determined not to let the burglar, named McVay, out of his sight, but when McVay explains that his sister is staying in an old cabin in the forest and will most likely not survive the brewing blizzard, Geoff ends up locking McVay in a closet and setting out to find Cecilia. He finds her and takes her back to the house after a quick conversation which contains the best part of the story, starting with Cecilia:
"Oh, there is no reason for the rescued to be humane."
"They ought to be grateful."
"Gratefuller then. Is it nothing that I have taken all the trouble to be born and grow up and live just to come here for you?"
"Perhaps I could be gratefuller if there were any prospect of a fire."
(Here I agreed wholeheartedly with Cecilia. Stop talking and take the girl back to the house, you moron!)
They finally make it back to the house where they are forced to stay over Christmas because of the snowstorm. To make a long story short: Geoff falls in love with Cecilia and bribes a detective of the police to be able to send McVay to Mexico to practically work as a slave in one of Geoff's mines so that Cecilia will not have to live with the shame of a trial. They all agree (the thief most of all), McVay is sent off and everyone lives happily ever after.
Nothing in this story sat right with me. I did not buy Geoffrey's love for Cecilia, I did not buy the detective's reason for taking the bribe (I'm not even sure he had a reason) and I certainly did not buy McVay's ready acceptance, egerness even, of his less than stellar future. None of the characters were very likable, Geoffrey least of all. The only one I had any sympathy for was the burglar McVay, but even he turned out to be a fool in the end. I am sorry to say that for a Christmas story, this falls way short. I need to go watch a movie adaption of A Christmas Carol to cheer me up now.
My rating: 2/6