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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Nineteen-year-old Esther is a new aunt. Having survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, her brother is still off fighting the war, leaving his sister and wife alone to fend for themselves. Esther and Ann share an apartment and help each other out. This new bundle of joy, born just before Christmas, is a treasure for them both. Ann suggests they share a special Christmas once they bring the new baby home from the hospital. But Esther wonders how they can, with all the hours she has to spend in the department store where she works. There is one thing that attracts Esther’s attention: a lovely Christmas dress that hangs in a shop window between her workplace and the hospital where she visits her sister-in-law and her new niece twice a day. But she can’t afford it.
What is the meaning of Christmas? The art of giving the right gift to someone special has magnified over the years into a very commercial enterprise. But the art of giving comes from much deeper within than the gift itself. The perfect gift must be wrapped in love. Kellyn Roth’s short story, Esther Ashton’s New Dress, talks of a time when people struggled to make do, but still managed to share the true spirit of Christmas. The characters are well developed in this short story, and the plot progresses well, concluding with an eloquent resolution that brings tears to the reader’s eyes. The author has described the setting well, quickly revealing that the era of the story is the Second World War, just after Pearl Harbor. A compassionate story full of the power of family love at Christmas time.