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Using the brilliant, deceptively simple device of telling the Christmas story backwards, Stephen Cottrell helps us encounter it as if for the first time. Narrating the story from the perspective of key characters gives us insights into its many horrors and uncertainties as well as its joys. The book may be used as a fresh and unique Advent study course or even as an adult Nativity play. Though the Christmas story is well known, most of us have learnt it from school nativity plays and carols. On the whole, this familiar version is more concerned with light than darkness. The backwards approach taken here allows the movement to be in the opposite direction, enabling us to get under the skin of a complex narrative. We begin by seeing through the eyes of Anna, the prophetess; followed by Rachel, who weeps for her children; King Herod; Casper, a wise men; David, a shepherd; Martha, the (so-named) innkeeper's wife; Joseph; Elizabeth; Mary; Isaiah and, finally, Moses. Each imaginative reflection is prefaced by a Bible reading and followed by a prayer.