It's beginning to look a lot like an American Christmas: unpleasant relatives, miserable travel, a slobbering dog-and one "harmless American of Irish origins," Jack Flanigan, who is reluctantly falling in love with a young Russian woman studying at Harvard.
She's spending Christmas alone in a foreign country, so he invites the dark-eyed beauty home to Chicago for the holiday. Even though it isn't Christmas in the Russian Orthodox calendar, she accepts!
What happens when she gets to Chicago and caught in the maelstrom of commercialized Yuletide? Enough to say, there's a tree, and a feast, and midnight Mass, and a gaggle of contentious Flanigans of all ages-who have the merriest Christmas ever-and nothing will ever be quite the same for any of them.
Especially for Jack.
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Not your average Christmas tale, this big-hearted but saccharine short novel sets up callow Boston College student Jack Flanigan with beautiful, soulful Harvard undergrad Tatiana Alexseevna Shuskulya, just in time for Advent. A Russian studies major, Jack first glimpses Tatiana reading a Russian newspaper and, trying to show off his meager command of the language, succeeds only in making her acquaintance. As the two pious but hormonally healthy virgins become friends, Jack worries that Tatiana will spend Christmas alone, invites her (with some trepidation) home to Chicago for the holiday, then watches the Scripture-citing Orthodox girl with the "rich and glorious breasts" sweep his pugnacious Irish family off its feet. Scattered throughout the book are poems, songs, stories from Tatiana's homeland--and more blarney about Mother Russia and the True Meaning of Christmas than most readers will be able to swallow in such a concentrated dose. As usual, former priest Greeley is a kindly matchmaker and a forgiving Catholic: fans may gobble down his latest confection like so much Christmas rom-baba.