The Greatest Gift – Philip Van Doren Stern

The story that inspired the world’s favourite Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life.

It is Christmas Eve, 1943, a dissatisfied George Pratt (Bailey in the film version) is contemplating suicide.

We all know the story of “It’s a Wonderful Life” – if you don’t, what do you watch at Christmas? – so I won’t bore with the ins and outs of the plot.

It’s a lovely short story, knowing the story from the film didn’t lessen the delight of reading this little gem. The film it inspired means so much to me that I was so glad I finally remembered to order the book to read in the run up to Christmas.

If you ever get the chance, pick it up and give it a read. It’s only 36 pages so it won’t take you very long. My tea had hardly cooled to to drinking temperature by the time I had finished.

Favourite quotes from the book:

The current eddied and swirled like liquid glass, and occasionally a bit of ice, detached from the shore, would go gliding downstream to be swallowed up in the shadows under the bridge.

The water looked paralyzingly cold.

…and accompanied his departure with a hostile, rolling growl.

He grasped his startled brother’s hand and wrung it frantically, wishing him an almost hysterical Merry Christmas.


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