Top positive review
An excellent sequel to a beloved book
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2006
In this sequel to his classic book The Autobiography of Santa Claus, Jeff Guinn tells a new tale of Christmas in peril. In the first book, Guinn took the historical facts about St. Nicholas and the various people who contributed to the Santa Claus legend around the world and wove them into a beautiful life story. In this book, he continued that tradition, taking the troubles of the English Civil War as a backdrop for a tale about Santa's wife, Layla. Staying behind in England to manage their affairs there while her husband begins his time in the American colonies, Layla finds herself at the forefront of a movement to protect Christmas from a Puritan reformation that wants to stomp out anything reminiscent of Catholicism in England. Layla is forced to flee to Canterbury, where she lives for a time with friends Alan and Elizabeth Hayes and their daughter Sara. As Oliver Cromwell amasses power in London, Layla and her friends concoct a daring plan to show Parliament that the people of England will never stand for Christmas being stolen from them.
Like The Autobiography of Santa Claus, this is a beautiful story that weaves together fact with fantasy to produce a thoroughly satisfying tale. In fact, this may even be a superior book to the original, in that it has a much more cohesive story. By necessity, Autobiography reads like a person's life story, hitting the high points but not really holding onto a compelling narrative thread to push the plot along. This new book is focused on a relatively brief period of time instead of the thousands of years in the first book, and on a single issue -- the attempt by the Puritans to squelch out Christmas in the 1640s. As such, it's a much stronger book simply from a storytelling standpoint.
Like the original, this book is written in 24 chapters -- making it quite convenient for parents to read a chapter a day to the little ones in December, finishing up on Christmas Eve. I don't have any kids myself yet, but I have every intention of doing this once I do. I also just found out that Guinn has produced a third book, The Great Santa Search, and I'll definitely be rushing out to get my copy before the holidays are over.