Review: Day 10: The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

*Ok so it’s basically a review of It’s A Wonderful Life. Can you name twelve Christmas books you’ve read and can remember or can read in a day?

The Great Gift is a short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943 which eventually became the all time Christmas movie classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. Around 4100 words, it was written during the 1930s after a dream Stern had but he was unable to find a publisher so he self-published 21 copies to give to his friends as Christmas presents.

It tells the familiar story of George Pratt, an all round nice guy, who spends his Christmas Eve wishing he’d never been born when his business is about to go belly up and put a lot of people at the mercy of the local Mr Burns esque tycoon. Instead of meeting an angel, like in the movie, George comes across a shabbily dressed stranger holding a satchel who he tells he wishes he’d never been born. The stranger promptly replying that the wish had been granted and leaves George to wander the town seeing how much worst everyone’s lives are including his younger brother who is now dead because George didn’t save him from drowning and his wife who is stuck married to another man with a bratty child. He then finds the man again and tells him he had ‘the greatest gift of all’, the gift of life and the man returns it making all right with the world once more.

Alls well that ends well. All is jolly and merry and love, life and family are all appreciated once more. The archetypal slice of small American idealism forgets the hardships of post war life in middle America but it is quite sweet if albeit in a slightly saccharine nauseating sort of way.

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This entry was published on January 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm. It’s filed under Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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