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Shakespeare's Christmas (1998)

by Charlaine Harris

Series: Lily Bard (3)

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1,1743211,859 (3.72)29
"Determined to move beyond her violent past, Lily heads to her hometown of Bartley for her estranged sister's Christmas Eve wedding. But there is something in the air besides holiday cheer--murder." --Back cover.
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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Don't be misled by the title, "Shakespeare's Christmas" is is not a "Christmas Special" where we get to see the people of the small town of Shakespeare acting as if they were in a remake of "It's A Wonderful Life". It is the darkest, and I think the best, book in the series so far. It's set before, not at Christmas and most of it takes place outside of Shakespeare.

The mystery in "Shakespeare's Christmas" is not a polite "whodunnit" murder under the mistletoe, but the death of a young mother, knifed and left to bleed out in the snow, and the search for a monster who preys on children while masquerading as a family friend. It has enough twist and turns to keep you guessing and enough evil to evoke rage in the reader.

As with the first two books, the thing I enjoyed most was the continuing development of Lily Bard. It's clear to me now that the five books in the series track Lily's evolution from someone who has isolated herself so that she can cope quietly with the task of staying alive from day-to-day, to someone who has taken the risk of creating a life that she values with people that she loves, even though she is always afraid of the vulnerability to loss and grief that this could produce.

In "Shakespeare's Christmas", Lily has reluctantly come back to her home town to attend her younger sister's wedding. She knows that she will have to put on her company manners for the wedding showers and rehearsal dinners but what worries her are not the formal niceties but the need to show herself to the family and friends that she walked away from, after her rape and mutilation, when she could no longer live with their pity or their pain.

There are no soft edges here, no Hallmark Moments, instead we get an honest exploration of how Lily copes with being back with people she loves but who she finds it hard to live with, not just because they grieve for who she was but because she no longer wants to be that person.

In her mind there is the old Lily from before the rape and the new Lily she is now: someone solitary, someone vigilant, someone strong enough to protect herself, someone who's old life has been stolen from her, someone who can no longer believe that other people are fundamentally good.

Lily struggles to connect her new self to her family and her friends. One of the things that helps her with this is her encounters with children. Lily believes that she does not understand children, yet the reader sees that her honesty, her directness and her strength mean that she succeeds in winning their trust and their admiration. Like at least some of the children around her, Lily believes in the monster beneath the bed; she believes that safety is an illusion; that vigilance and strength are necessary to survival and that men are willing to use violence to get what they want.

What Lily learns from the children is that she has not become a cold, distant monster; she has become a dragon-slayer.

As events unfold, Lily also learns that part of her strength now comes from being with Jack. Typically for Lily, while she knows this to be true and suspects it to be good, she worries that it will make her vulnerable.

There is evil in this book. An evil made worse because, as Lily and Jack try to search out its source, they find too many potential candidates too close to home. There is also love in this book. As Lily does what she needs to do to make those around her safe, she finally comes to understand that she can be the new Lily, strong, honest, and wary and still be loved as a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a one-time lover, and an old friend.

The book ends with Lily going back to Shakespeare for Christmas. It is her home now. It contains the things in her life that she most wants to celebrate.

After finishing the book, I decided that to read the rest of the series back to back. I'll keep you posted on my impressions. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
I am so glad to have Lily actually connecting with her new boyfriend Jack in such a way that he may become permanent. She has grown-up feelings, and recognizes them, and isn't running away from them, or Jack.
Lily is growing, coming out of her shell, and becoming more confident in herself, and others. She is willing to see that opening yourself up to others and their feelings SOME times does not end in pain, and is trying, once more.
Lily went to be in her little sister's wedding, and helped Jack solve a missing child case that transformed into a multiple murder case as well. It kept you guessing as to who the missing child was, right up until the end. The murderer was hidden from us as well. It is my favorite of the first three as well, and LOVE that it's a very serious series, and that they don't keep rehashing the details of The Bad Thing that happened to Lily, 8 (or so) years ago.
Lily is faced with some demons of the past, and is better for it. She goes home and sees her family and friends, From Before her life changed, and lives through it. She hangs around some kids, and seems to connect with them, even though she's convinced herself she doesn't like them much.
All in all, a damn good read. Very addicting, and I finished it in one day. I will read on, until the library doesn't have anymore. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
With the murder of the town doctor and his nurse and an unsolved eight-year-old kidnapping case suddenly reopened, the town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, is no place for a wedding, but Lily Bard's sister is still planning on tying the knot--that is, if Lily can clean up the crime situation first. Original.

This is the 3rd book in the Lily Bard Series. It was a good read and I really enjoy Lily and Jack. ( )
  CurlUpAndRead | Jun 10, 2019 |
Shakespeare's Christmas
4 Stars

Returning home for her sister’s wedding, Lily is dreading the inevitable confrontation with the harsh memories of her past. All this takes a back seat, however, when Lily finds herself enmeshed in a new mystery as her boyfriend, private investigator Jack Leeds, arrives with the troubling news that Lily's soon to be brother-in-law may be a kidnapper.

While Lily is definitely not the most affable of heroines and some readers may find her directness curt and discourteous, to me she is refreshing, original and admirable. The insights into her life immediately following the attack and the reactions of her friends and family at the time, provide additional depths to her character and reinforce her amazing strength of will and resilience.

Jack and Lily’s romance is going strong and there are several entertaining scenes with the two of them trying to define their relationship and its future direction. Jack can charm the pants off anyone and the reactions of the various Bard family members to his presence are priceless.

The mystery involves a killer’s attempts to cover up a kidnapping and once again the reader follows Lily as she uncovers the clues and confronts the culprit. The actual investigation is rather slow going as the case builds against several likely suspects, but the climax is exciting and the resolution satisfying.

Although the mystery is solved and the villain is apprehended, Lily’s departure from Bartley is somewhat abrupt and there are a couple of loose ends remaining, such as What happened to Jane Osborne? and Lily’s family’s reactions to events.

In terms of the audiobook, Julia Gibson’s narration is enjoyable although there are still lengthy gaps between sections that can be distracting.

In sum, Lily has become one of my favorite heroines and the more I read of this series, the better I like it. Looking forward to the next installment. ( )
  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
I enjoyed how the author took Lily out of the small town of Shakespeare and back to her small hometown, the root of her pain and issues, the family members she felt so awkward around. Of course there is a mystery thrown in when she arrives, to be solved amidst family dramas and wedding plans, Jack popping into town to stir up her loins, and Lily again getting uptight and moody if anyone tries to act normal around her.

The parents and sister don't stand out too much, but they were enjoyable written. The father wasn't in many scenes but turned out to be my favorite. Jack and Lily's relationship, again, not sure about the insta-magic when he appeared last time, see it's still going strong. I was intrigued by the cop and the back-story of how he reacted to Lily tugged on my heartstrings.

These books aren't known for their intense mysteries, but this one holds the more intriguing, complex, and twisted one of the series. Involves kidnapping, child baby switching, potential murders that may have happened offpage a long time ago, and a gross, perverted revelation at the end. Dark stuff but a happy ending after all. This is likely the best mystery of the Lily Bard series, where Lily actually has to snoop a bit on purpose. She doesn't come to by a Hercule Poirot or anything, but it's an interesting story nonetheless.

This one was a better one as, besides the story being rich, the background with her adjusting to her family and hometown made it more lively. Her raised eyebrow at her sister about strength was a little annoying though. Lily has become a bit snobby with some of her preconceptions of others, although she does come to admire some strengths with her sister.

The ending felt too abrupt to me, and I don't get how she couldn't look back at all when she eagerly left her family and hometown. They seem to be sweet people. Overall a good installment of the Lily Bard series, maybe the best yet. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
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For Dean James: reader, writer, friend, and bookseller extraordinaire
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My situation was as surreal as one of those slomo nightmares Hollywood uses to pad B movies.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Determined to move beyond her violent past, Lily heads to her hometown of Bartley for her estranged sister's Christmas Eve wedding. But there is something in the air besides holiday cheer--murder." --Back cover.

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Average: (3.72)
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2 19
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3 90
3.5 20
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