I’m sharing two stories this week, as we lead up to Christmas Day. The first one is another Christmas-season tale by Egyptologist, world traveler, and author of both crime and supernatural fiction, Amelia Edwards. You may recall that last year I featured her ghostly crime story, “The Four-Fifteen Express.”

Woodcarver of obermmergau jpg Blog

This year’s story is set in the village of St. Ulrich (or Urtijëi), in the Grödner Thal (called today Val Gardena, or Gröden), located in the Dolomite Alps region of Northern Italy. Gröden is known even today for its woodworking, both statuary and wooden toys. In fact, Amelia Edwards herself referred to St. Ulrich as “the capitol of Toyland” in her book Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys (1873).

Sister Johanna’s Story” was also published in 1873, obviously inspired by Edwards’ travels through the region. Woodworking features prominently in this narrative of an artist blinded to what’s happening around him by his passion for his work.

The narrator Johanna and her younger sister Katrine are the daughters of a family of wood-carvers, taught to carve mostly little wooden animals. Their next door neighbor Ulrich is a woodworking artist, the finest in the village.

No Madonnas, no angels, could compare with his for heavenly grace and tenderness; and as for his Christs, a great foreign critic who came to St. Ulrich some ten or twelve years ago said that no other modern artist with whose works he was acquainted could treat that subject with anything like the same dignity and pathos.

Ulrich gets engaged to the much younger Katrine, and all seems well, until Ulrich’s younger brother Alois returns home from studying painting in Venice, and well…

You can read Sister Johanna’s Story, here.

The tale chronicles the struggle in Johanna’s heart as she sees what’s going on behind Ulrich’s back. Between the lines, it also alludes to some of Johanna’s unacknowledged feelings, as well. It’s a tragic, but lovely story, and yes, there is a ghost involved.

Do check it out. Later this week, on Christmas Eve, I’ll be sharing a lighter-hearted tale, in keeping with my custom of the last several years.

A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.

Featured Image: The workshop of Franz Tavella, Wilhelm Moroder Lusenberg (1902). Photographed by Wolfgang Moroder. Source: Wikipedia

Image: Woodcarver of Obermmergau, Toby Edward Rosenthal (1891). Source WikiArt

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