Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern (The Heartwarming Story that became the Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life)

Title: The Greatest Gift
Author: Philip Van Doren Stern
Read by: Edward Herrmann
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 45 minutes (1 CD)
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Review Copy – Thank-you!

I LOVE It’s a Wonderful Life.  It is not only my favorite Christmas movie, but also one of my favorite movies of all time.  Or according to my son Kile’s review, it is “Good.”  I love the theme behind It’s a Wonderful Life that each one of our lives have value and affects so many others, even if we don’t know it.  I jumped at the chance to review The Greatest Gift, which is the short story that It’s a Wonderful Life is based upon.

I’ll admit that I loved The Greatest Gift so much that I listened to it not once, not twice, but three times.  The first half of the audiobook is the story of George Bailey.  A mysterious stranger shows up on Christmas Eve to help George to see what life would be like if he had never been born.  George realizes that each person has worth and that he does indeed have a wonderful life.  The second half of the audiobook is the amazing story of how Philip Van Doren Stern got the idea for the story, wrote it, and was unable to get it published.  He sent it as a Christmas card one year, and then received a phone call from Hollywood asking for the rights of the story to make a movie.  It also talks about the making of the movie and how it impacted Van Doren Stern’s family and the world.   I loved it.  

Edward Herrmann did a good job narrating the story.  I believe Van Doren Stern’s daughter narrated the afterward. I enjoyed how the story had many of the same elements as the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but also had some different elements that were intriguing to me.   I really loved learning the background of the story and the movie.  I thought this was such a great CD that I went out and purchased it for a couple of Christmas gifts.  Although it’s such a great inspiring story, it doesn’t only need to be a gift for Christmas!  

Overall, this is a wonderful audiobook that I am going to love to listen to each year at the holidays.

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