In Civil War-era Massachusetts, the peace and contentment of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's family circle was tragically broken, prompting him to write the classic poem "Christmas Bells." In this novel, the author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
and the Elm Creek Quilts books re-creates that time, then turns to present-day Boston, where school teacher Sophia learns that her music program has been sacrificed to budget cuts. Facing unemployment but also worried for her underprivileged students, she tries to forget her cares as she leads her church's children's choir in a rehearsal for a Christmas Eve concert. They are singing a carol set to a poem by Longfellow, and the words he penned so long ago will move Sophia to new hope.