Book: 443 pages, eBook
The only thing preventing Beth’s perfect family Christmas? Her family!
Television presenter Agatha Holly has built her career on telling viewers how to have the perfect Christmas. ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’ has been screened every December for twenty years and her entire family are involved, including her daughter Beth—the unwilling star of a thousand memes and gifs. But Beth has finally had enough of public ridicule. All she’s ever wanted is a traditional family Christmas away from the television cameras. If she can’t persuade her family to change, should she consider celebrating Christmas without them?
This is my first Christmas read of 2020 – and my first book by Louise Marley – and I loved it. It’s not like some of the other Christmas books that can be a bit ‘samey’ – sometimes I find that I get confused with characters and plots from different Christmas books. This lovely novel focuses on Beth as she tries to have the perfect, traditional family Christmas and Nick as he tries to save his family home from being sold from under him.
The relationships between Nick and his brother (Aiden) and Beth and her sister (Lucy) are really interesting – both siblings are complete opposites in personality and characteristics (think Anna and Elsa from Frozen) and the way these relationships play out is really interesting and, in my opinion, really true to life (I have 4 sisters and 1 brother).
I enjoyed reading this book and I could see it playing out in front of me – this would make a fab Christmas film. The setting of the Abbey gave the book a hint of a gothic feel, which I loved. The ending leaves plenty of scope for spin-offs or for some of the more minor characters to be developed on future novels. I love it when authors do this as I find it really fun when you read a book and someone you ‘know’ pops up again.
There are twists and turns along the way, and not just the hairpin bends leading up to The Abbey, and several times I thought I knew what was coming but was surprised by an event or a revelation. Considering the book takes place over 4-5 days, a lot is packed in.
Given the current times we are living in, and all the talk of “what will Christmas be like this year” I really felt this book. We have talked as a family about what we usually do that we won’t be doing this Christmas and we’ve decided that it’s time to make some new traditions and to strip Christmas right back this year – a theme that bounces around in this book. All Beth really wants is her family to be around her, and that’s all we can hope for this year.
Warning: will make you want to eat mince pies and bacon sandwiches!