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Written by Brianne Martin
Mistletoe as a Motif
Mistletoe is a constant motif in the novel and reminds us of both Christmas and romance. The Mistletoe Inn is the festive location of the romance writing workshop called The Mistletoe Retreat and is also the place where the major romance in Kim's life gets started. There is not only the Christmas connotation with the mistletoe but also the connection to kissing Benearh it thereby also relating to the theme of romance.
Christmas as a Motif
Christmas is emphasized throughout the novel; the Mistletoe Inn is decorated with beautiful garlands and ornaments and there is Christmas music in the lobby which is the same as the music that Kim's father puts on the radio at home on Christmas Eve. Zeke takes Kim to see Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, thought of as the Christmas capital of America, with its beautiful Christmas markets and traditional wassail, then also takes her to the always-Christmassy New York City precisely because it is Christmassy and it might help her write the more holiday-oriented scenes in her novel which is also about a romance that takes place at Christmas.
Christmas as a Symbol of Abandonment
Kim hates Christmas because her mother committed suicide on Christmas Day when Kim was eleven years old. Now Christmas represents to Kim all of the feelings of anger and dread that she tries to run away from the rest of the year but cannot seem to outrun at Christmas. Each year reminds her of the same feelings of being left that she felt as a child and so Christmas has come to symbolize somewhat different emotions to her than to other people.
Abandonment as a Motif
Kim has feelings of abandonment stemming from her mother's suicide. Abandonment comes up again when Zeke is telling Kim about his wife leaving him; he considers she abandoned him even though he passed away, and abandonment also crops up again in his speech to the writers at the conference when he admits he abandoned his wife as his writing career took off. Abandonment also comes up again when Kim abruptly leaves Zeke after he admits he attempted suicide.
Italy as a Motif
It's appears as a motif whenever true love is demonstrated. When Kim's father is telling Kim about her mother he tells her that when she was a little girl she thought her mother's name was Tessa because he called her by her nickname of Tesora, which is Italian for "treasure". The book that inspired Kim to become a writer was Zeke's first novel, "Tuscan Promise" which is about about romance that takes place in Italy. The romance of Rome is also one of the available lectures at the Mistletoe workshop.
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