Starry Night

Starry Night is my latest Christmas read by Debbie Macomber. As it is the fourth such novel I have read in less than three weeks I haven’t encountered any variation and the Macomber formula seems firmly in place. Each book was between 225 and 235 pages and there are nineteen chapters (although with this one there were only fifteen). Action progresses rapidly which renders stories eye-rollingly unbelievable. Perfect for fantasy romance or a TV movie but not in real life. Maybe I am a jaded skeptical male reader–not the author’s intended audience–as I consider myself a literalist always questioning what I read. Thus I have long thought that the genre of fantasy fiction and my reader mindset would be hopelessly incompatible.

Carrie Slayton is a society page columnist who is bored with her job. She wants to write more substantial articles and the only way she can move ahead–and get the assignments she craves for–is if she manages to track down and interview the best-selling author in the country, a recluse named Finn Dalton who lives somewhere in Alaska. Carrie puts her detective skills to work and tracks Finn down to a cabin inaccessible by road where the only way of finding it is by small aircraft.

Their first encounter almost never happened, as Carrie is mauled by Finn’s dog upon her approach to his cabin. Macomber paints Finn as a stereotypical Grizzly Adams caricature, complete with heavy beard. Whenever Finn spoke, his utterances were preceded by unintelligible grumbling. These animalistic vocalizations were comical but mostly annoying. The two eventually grow on each other, and in spite of Finn’s lifelong issue of a distrust of women, brought on by abandonment of his mother and rejection by past girlfriends, he opens up to Carrie.

Drama arises when the two fall in love and Carrie has to decide whether or not she will betray Finn by publishing a story about her encounter with the reclusive author–and get the career she wants–or pursue a life with the man of her dreams. In a novel as short as this, Finn’s personality has to snap as easily as a sun-baked twig and he goes from rejecting all humanity in one chapter to joining Carrie at a party in the next. The two talk about marriage and raising a family even though they have known each other for a few weeks (where half of that time Finn grumbled about how much he couldn’t stand her). Granted, in real life some couples realized they were perfectly suited for one another after only their first meeting, so the suspension of belief in the compatibility of these characters’ divergent lifestyles must be accepted. There wouldn’t be a happy ending to this Christmas love story otherwise, folks.

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