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Reviewed by Tom Gauthier for Readers' Favorite
Set in 19th century Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and inspired by a true story, The Tin Whistle is an elegant tale that teaches the lesson: “giving is more important than receiving”. Kathleen Shoop has crafted a touching story, pure and simple, unmuddied by the chaotic agendas of the 21st century. The life of Jacob Gusky from orphaned Jewish boy to wealthy businessman is in juxtaposition to the lives of recently widowed Frannie Winston and her daughter Molly, left destitute by the death of Frannie’s husband. He had mismanaged his funds and now Frannie is on the street and Molly is in a shelter for children. Rummaging through his old possessions in the attic of their mansion, Jacob Gusky opens a small package containing the tin whistle that a Catholic boy had shared with the Jewish boy at Christmas in the orphanage. He is struck by the memory of what it felt like to have nothing, deciding to use his great wealth to make a difference in the lives of others in his community: Jewish, Catholic, or any other faith. Kathleen Shoop weaves the predicament of Frannie and Molly into Jacob’s world in a masterfully told tale of Christmas and unconditional love.
Reviewing The Tin Whistle left me unusually wordless in my search for terms of praise high enough for Kathleen Shoop’s beautiful tale. Kathleen is a master writer, pure and simple, like the tale itself. Her research into the historic events that underpin her story is evident at every turn of the plot. Authenticity, clean and unadorned, sets this elegant work apart from other Christmas tales of the subgenre, far apart indeed. Without any judgmental comment on the 19th-century plight of the people in her story, Kathleen provides an atmospheric setting and an immersive feeling that immediately draws one into her world. Please put The Tin Whistle on your reading list and your gift list for your most beloved friends. Kathleen Shoop has given all of us a treasure.