On Strike for Christmas
Sheila Roberts

St. Martin's Press
Trade Paperback/319 pages
ISBN: 0-312-37022-9
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". . . a wonderful Christmas tale with a winning cast of characters full of sadness, hilarity, love and hope . . ."

On Strike for Christmas: What Christmas would be like if men were in charge.

Joy Robertson can’t spend one evening with her family without her husband, Bob, a well known mystery writer, throwing a wet blanket on her fun. She can either leave early with her anxious, pouting husband or leave him at home. She’s not happy about either option.

Laura Fredricks’s husband, Glen, is a party animal who invites friends and colleagues over for a party or dinner at the drop of a hat expecting his wife to provide the food and clean up the mess even though she works thirty hours a week and takes care of their two small children.

Sharon Benedict is a Martha Stewart clone, and she likes things just so from her stylish clothes and shoes to her children and home. Her husband doesn’t appreciate the beautiful meals and holidays she painstakingly prepares. He calls her “Yulezilla”.

Kay Carter’s husband, Jack, suffers from penny-pinchitis and hounds her about how much she spends. She only wants to give their family happy holidays to remember.

Joy is tired of curtailing her happiness and excitement during the holidays for Bob Humbug. She wants to give her Scrooge a lesson about family and enjoying the holidays, so she goes on strike. There will be no holiday baking, no family get-togethers, no parties, no cookie exchanges, no presents and no holiday fun of any kind in their house unless Bob takes care of it. She is determined to teach Bob the meaning of Christmas. Bob couldn’t be happier. At last, he can enjoy the holidays in peace and quiet without people crowding his house and struggling through yet another one of Joy’s family’s parties.

When Joy tells her friends at the Monday night Stitch-N-Bitch knitting group. Laura, Sharon and Kay join her strike, but Carol doesn’t like what she hears.

Carol White is a widow and the oldest woman in the knitting group. Her husband died nearly two years ago, and she thinks her friends are selfish and don’t appreciate having husbands who love them. She is angry, jealous and depressed. She won’t celebrate Christmas this year, but only because she has nothing to celebrate.

Rosemary Charles and her faithful photographer, Rick, have heard about the strike from Sharon Benedict and they can’t wait to get the whole story from the woman who started it all: Joy Robertson. Rosemary gets her story, and she and her editor agree they should make it into a series and follow the strikers through the holidays as the games begin.

Striking for better conditions isn’t a new concept. Aristophanes wrote a play called Lysistrata about a Greek woman who was tired of the men always going off to war and leaving them alone. She and the other women in town decided to strike and refuse the men sex until they quit their warring ways.

Following in the spirit, if not Lysistrata’s actual methods, Sheila Roberts offers On Strike for Christmas with a sense of humor and keen insight into what makes men and women tick. Carol White provides a much-needed counterpoint to the striking women, and another woman’s view on what is and isn’t important in a marriage without sounding too bitter or dampening the fun. She, too, learns something about herself, family, and the spirit of Christmas.

What could have ended up as a one-sided, male-bashing diatribe about unappreciative men who take their wives for granted becomes in Roberts’s skillful hands a wonderful Christmas tale with a winning cast of characters. It is a story full of sadness, hilarity, love and hope where no one emerges unscathed or untouched by the holiday spirit. On Strike for Christmas is a laugh-out-loud funny story full of poignant moments that is bound to become a classic.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell