Christmas At Carnton

“Christmas at Carnton: A Novella” by Tamera Alexander. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2017. 256 pages. $12.99.

“Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas – and of sacrificial love. Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position – only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity – and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man? Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies – one, in particular – is far more than he bargained for. Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.”

Christmas is always a great time read something uplifting, and a romance novel is even better. I was excited to get this in the mail, as I was certainly in the mood for a quick read that would bring up my spirits, and this book certainly fit the bill.  It is a perfect historical, southern, romance story. Even better, it is a launching a three book series!

The Civil War is always a tough topic, and at first I was a little worried, but overall, Alexander does an amazing job of weaving together the history and the characters. The story starts off with Aletta feeling hopeless, and we quickly are drawn into her story, her world, and the history surrounding it. I fell in love with Aletta’s son, Andrew, and it was perhaps my favorite part of this story. As a mother of a three year old boy, it was easy to visualize his face, his movements, and the way he would have responded to things.

The author also did a good job of challenging our own ideas.  Aletta’s father was a carpenter, and therefore she knows how to work with wood – an important piece to the overall story and a nice change for a woman in a historical novel. She was well developed as a character, a wonderful mother, and it was great to see her journey and her strength, even when she felt like she had failed.  The other women around her were also great characters, and I enjoyed their interactions and how they worked together.

One of the reasons that I loved this book is because of the glimpse it gives us into another life style, and time.  There is no major technology, no phone calls to be making, it was so often a waiting game for news. Alexander mentions how many women found out their loved ones had perished on the battlefield from reading the newspaper, because it was there before their letter came to their doorstep. We so often become removed from the history and the hardships we once faced, and it was good to be reminded of it as well.

Alexander simply knows how to tell a lovely, heartwarming story that is good for the soul. For those whom enjoy it, there is also a religious aspect to this novel, and as it takes place around Christmas, it is more special to those in the story.  Carnton Plantation is still in Tennessee today, and is now a museum. For more about Tamera’s books, visit

*Longer review will be published in The Bowling Green Daily News*

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