Set in Victorian times, the story opens on Christmas Eve with Pearl carving a snow girl in the image of her sister Agnes, who died three years ago. She wraps Agnes’ best shawl, a treasured memento, around the sculpture and, with that gesture, misses her sister a little less. Just then, the postman arrives, handing her an official letter for Pa. It is from the solicitor of his wealthy but estranged brother who has died, leaving a will in which he is the main beneficiary. Could it be that Pa and his family have been left a fortune? Will this be the end of their poverty?
In anticipation of riches, Ma sends Pearl to the village grocery for ingredients to make a Christmas pudding. It’s time to move on, she declares, to put Agnes’ death behind them and take part in the festivities. However, Pearl’s shopping trip goes disastrously wrong when she’s denied credit, setting in train a series of extraordinary events. And what about Pa, will his hopes of wealth come true?
This book brings alive for a young audience the different strata within Victorian society: the poor and the rich, the artisans with no future and the magnates with their mansions and servants. It is quick-paced and eventful, and the outcome – in which love and joy triumph over material gains – as rewarding as a Christmas story should be. Each of the eight chapters has a full-page illustration that sets the scene and adds seasonal atmosphere.
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