With the Christmas decorations now packed up in boxes and put away for next year, the Christmas cards recycled and the yummy mince pies but a memory on my lips, it is time to wrap up my Christmas reads and get the Christmas books put back on the library shelf ready for next Christmas. So here are my last two Christmas reads wrapped up in one post.
All I Want For Christmas by Amy Silver.
This was a delightful book set out in a diary format covering the two weeks leading up to Christmas. It follows the lives of three different women as they cope with the stresses and strains of Christmas. First up, you have Bea, the owner of the The Honey Pot, a local coffee shop / deli, who is determined to make this first Christmas for her son a happy one. Bea was widowed before her son was born and has been through a lot. She has struggled to come to terms with her loss as anyone would.
Then you have Olivia, a girl born into a very rich family. She gets knocked down outside Bea's cafe and they eventually become good friends. Olivia is struggling to cope with catering for Christmas with her boyfriend's family as they all descend upon her. She also doesn't know how to cope with her boyfriend's marriage proposal and goes a little bit off the rails.
Lastly you have Chloe, the most cold hearted character I have met since Heathcliff. She does not give a hoot about who she tramples on and doesn't understand why her married lover doesn't want to spend Christmas with her. She is the Ice Queen and gets banned from the coffee shop. A few twists and turns later and Bea and Olivia go out of their way to melt the Ice Queen's heart.
I really enjoyed this book. It was realistic but heartwarming at the same time. Don't expect lots of gushing romance and snow filled wonderlands, because you won't get it here. What you will get is real life, real problems buut with a happy ending. Bea was the strongest character in the book and you cannot help but feel a little sorry for her as she came to terms with her alcoholism. It was very much an easy read and one that happily saw me through my congested days from Christmas to New Year.
A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry
I had imagined Anne Perry to be from the Catherine Cookson brigade, who I avoid like jellied eels. Alas I admit to be so wrong. Anne Perry writes a brilliant Victorian crime novella in the style of Agatha Christie. I really enjoyed reading this book and watching as the main character followed the clues to work out who committed the crime.
Mariah Ellison has been forced to spend Christmas with ex daughter in law and new husband, whilst her granddaughter goes to France for Christmas. She is not at all happy about the situation and makes herself the most inhospitable guest that she can be. Until another unexpected guest is forced upon the couple which changes everything. Mariah dislikes her straight away and only really begins to see what a wonderful person she was after she is found dead the following morning. Mariah is convinced that she was given some kind of poison and sets off to the house of her relatives who rejected her at Christmas to tell them the sad news and secretly find out who killed her.
Anne Perry draws upon the hidden lives of many Victorians as they try to keep their secrets away from scrutiny. Mariah herself suffered intensely during her marriage, but has never let anyone know the truth. It was not the way to create a scandal. Whilst searching for the killer and helping the family come to terms with their loss, she finds a way of coming to terms with her own past and finds herself mellowing with time.
From what I can gather Anne Perry uses a lot of the same characters in her other books. Mariah is the grandmother to Charlotte from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries which I might just have to investigate. Mariah comes across as a stuffy, prudish old boor to begin with but by the end she has blossomed through my rose tinted glasses into a rather lovable and cuddly grandmother.
It was a lovely Christmas read, especially being able to view how the Victorians seem to wholeheartedly throw themselves into the Christmas preparations. Perry has done a remarkable job of bringing the Victorian traditions to life. I will definitely be including another one of Anne Perry's Victorian Christmas novellas in my reading pile next December.