Historic Christmas Star Inspires Award-Winning Author’s Novel

The Christmas star that has been shining on Buck Hill over the small valley of Hackettstown since welcoming the town’s soldiers home from World War II is the inspiration for award-winning novelist Maryann McFadden’s 5th novel, The Christmas Star. 


“While watching a Hallmark Christmas movie with my mother years ago, she urged me to write about our star,” McFadden explains. “People in town have such an emotional connection with it and everyone has a story. When you drive down the mountain and see the star shining across the valley, it’s simply magical.”


But years passed and several other books occupied her time. Then Covid hit.


“It was in April of 2020, during the first weeks of lockdown and I was walking through my neighborhood just as it was getting dark. Then I looked up and saw to my astonishment that the Christmas star was lit! It was April, not December! I got tears in my eyes and felt such a surge of hope. I went home determined to get this story written.”


Within a year, she had a screenplay finished and in the hands of a producer who fell in love with it. “Of course, the TV and film industry was also shut down so I knew this could take a while. In the meantime, I decided why not also write the novel of this story? So, I did.”


The Christmas Star: A moving story of family secrets, second chances, and finding love when you least expect it is a holiday romance sure to touch the hearts of anyone who reads it. While it’s fiction, McFadden drew on the history of the star, and her own connection with it, to create the story of a woman who is determined to get the star lit again after it is destroyed by a superstorm.


“I hope the people in my hometown fall in love with these characters whose lives, like so many here, have been moved and inspired by the star. I include so many Hackettstown traditions, like our Hometown Holiday and Santa Parade. I also include the history of the star, which was originally erected and taken down by volunteers each December and was a difficult and often brutally cold labor of love. In the beginning, they used wood from old telegraph lines to erect it each year. Finally, in the sixties, a permanent structure was erected.”


From her bedroom window, McFadden can see the star as it shines each holiday beginning December 1st through New Year’s Day. It’s become a tradition for her grandkids to come for sleepovers to see the star as they go to sleep. 


While the plot is a work of fiction, readers will delight in the real locations in charming Hackettstown, including a few characters they may well recognize. 


Most of all, townspeople will all recognize a collective sentiment at the heart of the story: When you see the star, you’ll know you’re home …


In 2007 Maryann McFadden “won the literary lottery” according to writing blogs when her previously self-published novel, The Richest Season, sold at auction to Hyperion Books. It became a Target Breakout Novel and an Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association. Her next 2 novels, Cape Cod Light and The Book Lover are also Indie Next Picks. Her 4th novel, The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, is a historical novel set in her NJ hometown and has become a book club sensation. It is a novel she believes she was destined to write. Maryann’s books have been translated into multiple languages and her unusual publishing journey has inspired many aspiring authors. You can reach her at maryannmcfadden.commaryannmcfadden@comcast.net or 201-874-9331.

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Summary & Reviews


The Christmas Star


Come home to a heartwarming story of family secrets, second chances, and finding love when you least expect it. Inspired by the star that shines over the author’s hometown.


When you see the star, you’ll know you’re home.

When single mom Hope Reynolds returns to her small New Jersey hometown a decade after a rift with her father, there’s only one thing she’s looking forward to: seeing her beloved Christmas Star shining across the valley. For townspeople, it’s been a beacon of hope, a symbol of miracles. Though she long ago stopped believing, Hope needs a miracle now more than ever. 


But the star on Buck Hill, which has been shining over Hackettstown every Christmas since welcoming its soldiers home from World War II, is no longer lit, damaged from a recent superstorm. Hope is devastated and her son Zach is disappointed. 


Soon, though, Hope begins to feel the magic of Christmas for the first time in years and is persuaded to spearhead a fundraiser to bring back the star. Though extending her stay could jeopardize the new life she’s building down south to give Zach roots, how can she say no? The star is part of her family history.  


Just when it seems she might actually pull off this miracle, Hope finds one final obstacle standing in her way: Ryan Miller, a former Marine and local handyman, who has awakened in Hope feelings she’s avoided for years.


Will Hope be able to convince Ryan to let the star shine once again? Or will it be Ryan who shows Hope that sometimes miracles come where we least expect them?








“McFadden invites readers into a beautiful escape and adds just enough drama to deliver all the heart stirs of the holidays. This story feels like a gift in itself.”  ~~Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Fun, Old-Fashioned Family Christmas



“Maryann McFadden’s newest book, The Christmas Star, will warm your heart! Our book club members are huge fans of Maryann’s novels and this one did not disappoint. The Christmas Star is a cozy holiday romance, set in a small town and Maryann’s descriptive writing will make you feel like you are right there cheering on and celebrating Christmas with characters who feel like family. In this book, you will find diverse townspeople pulling together for a collective goal as they remember and yearn for a special Christmas tradition of the past. Maryann has created characters who face many universal issues, including single parenting, family secrets, distrust, PTSD, and friendships, leaving you with hope and a realization that miracles can still happen.”


Between Friends Book Club, Easton PA




“Deftly crafted, The Christmas Star combines page-turning suspense with romance in a heartwarming story of returning home. Be prepared to read it in one dreamy sitting.” ~~ Julie Maloney, Award-winning author of A Matter of Chance



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