The Christmas Coat

Fiction - Holiday
76 Pages
Reviewed on 10/02/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers' Favorite

The Christmas Coat by Kathleen Shoop delivers on so many levels, from the narrative to the pitch-perfect realistic dialogue throughout and the message of being generous in the end. In my mind, The Christmas Coat comes across as a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, at least in some respects. We have the main credit “Scrooge” being played by the character Elliot Ebberts, who is quite possibly finding himself living out the best/worst/best day of his life, all starting with the purchase of a very expensive color-blocked cashmere coat. The three “ghosts” are played by Mary Jane, Jonathan, and James. One of my favorite moments was on page 20: “She ran a brush through her hair, then dug out lipstick so old that it crumbled when she drew it along her lips.” Kathleen Shoop has a way of making us smell, taste, and see words come to life.

Kathleen Shoop creates a story that resonates fully in The Christmas Coat. Emotions ran wild within this reader, from laughter to empathy to sadness to feeling hopeful for new beginnings. There was not a feeling that was left unexplored. Every sentiment found its way into the story. Above everything else, it felt believable, like all of it could truly take place, which leaves the reader with their own light at the end of the tunnel. Whether poor or rich, we find ourselves veering off from the people we want to become. The Christmas Coat puts a magnifying glass, although the faults could be seen by space, to the flaws of one man, Elliott Ebberts, who could very easily be any one of us.

Joe Wisinski

The Christmas Coat by Kathleen Shoop is a novella about a coat that brings assistance to all who wear it, despite being unattractive in appearance. It’s just before Christmas, and Elliot Ebberts, who’s in a foul mood, buys the expensive coat because its purchase helps remind him how far he’s come since his poverty-stricken childhood. But he loses the coat in a school carpool drop-off area, and it gets run over by numerous vehicles. By the time Elliot begins tracing the coat, it’s gone to numerous people. Each time he thinks he’s going to find it, he learns that the coat just left the person who had it, and he has to keep chasing it. But along the way, Elliot finds out about the good that the coat has done, and his attitude begins to change.

The Christmas Coat is a charming story. Although it’s fiction, part of it is actually based on a true incident, which inspired the story. Author Kathleen Shoop has a wonderful imagination. I was continually amused as the coat went from owner to owner, benefiting each person who temporarily owned it. Calamities, such as losing his phone and having his driver’s license taken away, befall protagonist Elliot Ebberts along the way. Despite what at first may seem like farfetched situations, Shoop’s skillful storytelling makes each one believable. There’s also a big surprise from his wife. I enjoyed the heartwarming conclusion, which I won’t spoil by telling you what happened. With Christmas coming as I write this, Kathleen Shoop’s book would be a good present for anyone, including yourself.

Susan Sewell

When a man loses his coat, he finds something more meaningful in the poignant holiday short story, The Christmas Coat by Kathleen Shoop. While on a trip to New York City, Elliot Ebberts stops at a boutique. A cashmere overcoat takes his fancy, and despite its nearly five thousand dollar price tag, Elliot purchases it. He gives it to his wife Libby to place under the tree for his Christmas present. The day before Christmas Eve, Elliot is closing on a Victorian house that he is giving Libby for Christmas and feels he must wear his new coat for good luck. However, on his way to the closing, Elliot loses the coat. Following leads, Elliot spends the rest of the day hunting for it. The day progresses into the evening, and Elliot is still searching for his overpriced garment. As he follows its trail, Elliot learns it is redefining the lives of those who touch it. What is so special about this coat, other than its exorbitant cost? Will Elliot ever find it?

Set during the holiday season, The Christmas Coat by Kathleen Shoop is a delightful short story that portrays the true meaning of Christmas. This lovely tale is a heartwarming message of rebirth and unconditional love. Better than the ghosts of Christmas in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the story portrays how the main character must remember who he is and where he came from. Beautifully written, this gripping novella is a magical reminder of the importance of caring for others despite how things may seem. Each recipient of the coat had an intriguing background, and the remarkable effect it had on their lives is unforgettable. I love this story, and I am adding it to my holiday repertoire. This poignant tale will charm and warm the hearts of everyone who loves life-changing Christmas stories.

K.C. Finn

The Christmas Coat is a work of fiction in the Christmas/holiday genre. It is suitable for all ages and was penned by Kathleen Shoop. The book follows the materialistic Elliot after he misplaces his expensive lucky coat while distracted by work while dropping his kids off at school. As he tracks his coat down, he comes face to face with various people who’ve encountered the coat, people with good hearts but to whom life hasn’t been kind. As his journey starts to change his outlook, his shallow relationships with his family are exposed to the world. He must remember who he is outside of his work to earn their affection back.

Christmas is a time for many things for many people, and one of the things it is for me is a time for heart-warming tales that I can enjoy under a blanket while the tree lights twinkle. Kathleen Shoop has perfected the formula for a Christmas story in this book, telling a morality tale about love and materialism that most of us need to hear around December. Elliot is a well-crafted and well-presented lead character, one who is initially unlikeable, but as the novel moves forward with his journey, we strip away the layers of what shifted him into the distant and materialistic husband and father he’s become. The Christmas Coat is a wonderful story to read and share with others at Christmas time. It captures the season’s true meaning in its exploration of materialism versus the genuine connections we make with the people around us.

Paula García Lasa

In everyone's life, there is always something that escapes one's control. Even the most skeptical person out there would have to admit it. Call it chance, destiny, or fate. It is undeniably there. Kathleen Shoop exploits this in her Christmas-themed book, The Christmas Coat. Elliot Ebberts is a former homeless person with a material worth success story who, in a desperate attempt to leave his past life behind, engages in a shallow consumerist life. He then loses his new coat (which he bought for an outrageous price) in a carpool, setting a chain of coincidences into motion. Then, the book splits into two different but well-connected paths. On the one hand is Elliot's journey to retrieve the coat while finding out about his way of living. On the other is the questionably fashionable piece of clothing, which appears to bring good luck.

As in many other Christmas-themed books, you can sense the undeniable influence of Charles Dickens's widely known work A Christmas Carol. Kathleen Shoop, however, approaches it differently, so the similarities between both are not that obvious. Duality is the main thrust of this book, engaging in a rhythmic game between opposites. The two storylines encompass the contrast generated by two polar-opposite events and the closely intertwined characters and their lives. Everything is part of an intricate web of connections and happenstances, ready to be untangled. Christmas time distinguishes itself with a special kind of electricity that fills everything and everyone, something you can't find on any other holiday. If you are looking to enhance this magical feeling, this book is definitely a great choice.