Book: 517 pages (eBook and paperback)
Publisher: Transworld Digital (eBook 1st October 2019, Hardback 31st October 2019, paperback 12th November 2020)
Meg is definitely not in the Christmas mood. She’s never gone in for tinsel, baubles and mistletoe, and right now she’s still getting over an illness. Yet when she’s invited to spend the run-up to Christmas in the snowy countryside, rather than dreary London, she can’t refuse.
Arriving at a warm and cosy family home in a small hilltop village, Meg soon begins to wonder what a proper Christmas might be like. But just as she’s beginning to settle in, she spots a familiar face. Lex.
Despite the festive cheer, Meg suddenly wants nothing more than to get as far away from him, and their past secrets, as she can. But if she stays, could this be the year she finally discovers the magic of Christmas…?
I’m a long-time fan of Trisha Ashley’s books, a lover of Christmas books and especially a lover of Trisha Ashley’s Christmas books so this book was perfect for me!
The story starts 12 months before the main story is set. It’s just after Christmas and Clara Mayhem Doome – successful writer and epigrapher – is pondering her life so far and decides to start writing her memoirs.
Fast forward the start of the story and we meet Meg who is on her way home from hospital having suffered from a bout of pneumonia. Meg has been collected by her ‘sort of’ grandfather, River, and is heading back to the commune in Wales (where she grew up) to convalesce. Meg eventually returns back to her cold, lonely flat in London ready to get back to work as a portrait painter. Suddenly, in bowls Clara Mayhem Doome telling Meg that she needs her to paint her portrait and she needs to come back home with her tomorrow. Despite Meg’s protests, Clara is insistent and Meg travels up to the moors with Clara the next day.
Clara’s house – the Red house – is home to a ‘put together’ family (a bit like Meg’s family from the commune) and she soon feels at home. There are twists and turns along the way as Meg meets more of Clara’s family and bumps into a few people from her past. There is also a bit of a ‘whodunnit’ moment – but I won’t give anything away.
Slowly, Meg begins to feel like she fits in somehow with the quirky set up and her ‘sort of grandfather’ River comes to join her to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Meg also gets to experience Christmas for the first time in her life.
I really enjoyed this story, feeling like it was coming together like one of Meg’s portraits on the canvas – slowly building up the layers until the picture emerged. There are a lot of characters to get to grips with (Clara, Henry, Tottie, Den, Meg, River, Teddy, Lex, Sybil, Mark, Rollo, Flora, Zelda…….) but all of them are important to the story and you soon remember who’s who. My favourite two characters have to be Teddy (the energetic 8 yr old) and Pansy (the cute Dachshund puppy).
If you like lots of drunken, secret trysts and a bit of sex then this book isn’t for you. However, if you like a compelling story of family, community, love and a bit of mystery then read this book. I will definitely read this again next Christmas (along with Trisha’s other Christmas novels).
To buy this book, please click one of the links below:
To buy from Waterstones (affiliate link)
To buy from Gullivers Books (my local independent book shop)
Or to order from an independent bookshop, please click here to go to Bookshop.org