Book Review: Christmas at Carnton by Tamara Alexander

christmas at carnton book review tamara alexander

The synopsis on the back of the book: 

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict them, she discovers an advertisement for the Women's Relief Society auction and applies for a position—only to discover it's been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity-- and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women's Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of "crinolines" isn't his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

  • Genre: Christian HIstorical Fiction
  • Published: 11/2017
  • Pages: 205
  • Goodreads rating: 4.32
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Why I Chose This Book

Romance, Christmas, food, what else could get better? When I heard about this short little novella I knew I could not read it! 

The Real Carnton in Franklin, TN. Image credit of  Battle of Franklin Trust

The Real Carnton in Franklin, TN. Image credit of Battle of Franklin Trust

First Initial Thoughts

I loved that the story took place in Tennessee because when my husband and I had to evacuate there (yes we had to evacuate that far) for Hurricane Irma we ended up really liking Knoxville, the town, and scenery. I also found it really interesting that Carnton is actually a real place! It was based on a plantation built in 1823 owned by the McGavock's. 

Aletta recently lost her husband to the Civil War and has a 6-year-old child named Alexander. She is literally broke when she accepts a job at the plantation, Carnton as a cook/baker. She was also 7 mos pregnant. When I read that I admired her for working all day while pregnant. I have never been pregnant but I can only imagine being on your feet all day while at the end of your pregnancy. Her tenacity and love towards her child is definitely something to admire. 

Jake was recently wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga. When he first comes to Carnton to rehabilitate he battles with the desire to return to his regiment but also knowing that he will never be able to shoot again due to his sight. He is a sweet man and very generous towards others he meets. 

I loved the McGavock's! Carrie was such a sweet woman. She took a chance on Aletta, which spoke volumes for her class. 


What I liked about Tamara's writing is that she solely focused on one or two areas in Franklin. This helped you focus on the story and characters itself. I could definitely vividly imagine the plantation and the characters in my mind. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Final Thoughts

The sweet romance between Aletta and Jake were just... swoon. Now, this is very clean romance you might add. But I like that kind of romance and I was just giddy throughout the whole book. Every page, I was looking forward to seeing how their relationship grew and I just was rooting for them all the way through! 

Did I mention there was a lot of food in this book? Yep, lots of it. Ugh, I was growing hungry just by reading it! Pie, cookies, hot cocoa, and other delicious food was mentioned in the book. What I found at the end of the book, which is not often done, is all the recipes for the food mentioned in the book. How neat is that?! I will need to try them!! 

I really liked the instant bond that Jake and Aletta's son, Alexander had. It was heartwarming to see him connect with Alexander and be there as a father figure. Even though Alexander lost his father, and nothing will ever replace him, I appreciated that Jake was there for him during a very difficult time. 

The main theme throughout this book is all about trusting in God. Trust that he will provide even during difficult and dark times. Aletta's faith was tested throughout the book but she kept going on, putting faith in the Lord. 

Overall, I absolutely adored this book. Even though it was short, it didn't disappoint! I didn't want it to end! I am very excited for the Carnton series coming soon next year. I can't wait to read them! 

Would I Recommend This Book? 

Oh yes! It's the perfect book to read over the holiday weekend. I think anyone will just love this heartwarming romance! 

You can purchase the book, HERE

I hope you pick up the book to read, I know you will just love it! Have you read this book? If so, share your thoughts in the comments! 

the caffeinated bibliophile