One Christmas Eve by Shari Low and The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan make fantastic holiday reads, but are sure to give you the warm and fuzzies anytime of year.
One Christmas Eve Synopsis
A festive tale of complicated families, impossible choices, and an unforgettable love that lasts three lifetimes.
Three women, three decades, three Christmas Eve moments that change their lives forever…
On Christmas Eve, 1968, Cathy McLean receives a surprise visit from the lost love of her life and is forced to choose between the one that got away and the one that stayed.
On Christmas Eve, 1993, Cathy’s daughter Helena is overjoyed to hear that her boyfriend is about to propose, until a devastating encounter threatens to bring her heartbreak instead of diamonds.
On Christmas Eve 2023, a shocking discovery rocks Eve Quinn’s world. The only gift Eve wants this year is the truth. But will it take a Christmas miracle to unravel generations of secrets?
(Boldwood Books, August 2023)
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Women’s fiction often gets a bad wrap – too commercial, too saccharine, too trite. But I assure you, in One Christmas Eve Shari Low delivers the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, feisty and funny, passion and poignance. While this story is romantic in many senses, its gravitas stems from its exploration of bereavement and sacrifices made for family and friends.
One Christmas Eve‘s multi-generational ensemble cast depict a range of delightfully different personalities and relationships. Readers will be hard-pressed to not find one or more that strikes a chord with them. It was the enduring close relationship between this grandmother and grand-daughter that really moved me. And, while this novel is principally about strong women, men of substance also play key roles. It is hard to say more without revealing spoilers I’m afraid.
In addition to Shari Low’s perceptive character development, her deft plotting and warm yet economical alternating timeline narratives (Cathy, Helena and Eve) kept me swiftly turning the pages. And, if you are as enamoured by fairy lights in trees as I am, then you are in for a special real treat.
I highly recommend allowing this heartwarming read, One Christmas Eve to brighten your day, like it did mine, anytime of the year! This will be a late addition to my Best Books of 2023 list.
The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5
Get your own copy of One Christmas EveAmazon Bookshop US Booktopia AU
Find out more about author Shari Low and her full back catalogue.
The Christmas Bookshop Synopsis
Escape to a cosy festive bookshop this winter with this page-turning and magical treat.
Carmen has always worked in her local department store. So, when the gorgeous old building closes its doors for good, she is more than a little lost.
When her sister, Sofia, mentions an opportunity in Edinburgh – a cute little bookshop, the spare room in her house – Carmen is reluctant, she was never very good at accepting help. But, short on options, she soon finds herself pulling into the snowy city just a month before Christmas.
What Sofia didn’t say is that the shop is on its last legs and that if Carmen can’t help turn things around before Christmas, the owner will be forced to sell. Privately, Sofia is sure it will take more than a miracle to save the store, but maybe this Christmas, Carmen might surprise them all…
(First published 2021, republished by Hachette Australia 2023)
I adored, loved, raved over the first book I ever read from Jenny Colgan, her sci-fi romcom Resistance Is Futile. So, I have been meaning to read this, her Christmas bestseller, for some time now.
The extent to which you find yourself engaging with the lead character’s personality is often key to your enjoyment of a drama-filled novel. It was a slow burn for Carmen and I.
Carmen couldn’t, she thought to herself, be the only person in the world who was both nearly thirty and who still turned into a stroppy teenager when confronted by her mother.
While I did enjoy this mental musing and completely understand the instinct, perhaps I’m just getting to an age when I have little tolerance for petulant, cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face behaviour? Anyway, thankfully frColgan was just setting the starting point low for her subsequent satisfying redemptive story arcs.
There are a lot of different story threads in The Christmas Bookshop – the plight of a bookstore, the plight of the bookstore’s owner, the commercialisation of Christmas and faith, the evils of the publishing-marketing-social media machine, the sometimes challenging relationship between sisters, the value and expectations women place upon themselves in their lives and relationships, and even how best to raise children – which yield drama aplenty. Then there’s the general overarching theme, a personal favourite, of not judging people by their covers.
But most memorable and engaging for me is the reverence books are afforded – their mystery, magic and beauty.
… Tiny Leone smiled and took the book after Carmen carefully wrapped it up in paper and held it tight to her breast, as if she both loved it and was slightly scared of it, which was not, after all, the worst emotions to feel about a book. “Thank you,” she whispered.
The initial teenage-sisterly angst aside, there is much for bookworms to love about The Christmas Bookshop. A fun and entertaining read sure to get you into the holidays spirit.
And, good news for bookworms who like to binge, lead character Carmen and her charming Edinburgh bookstore are back in this 2023 Christmas release from Jenny Colgan, Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop.
The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Get your own copy of The Christmas BookshopAmazon Bookshop US Booktopia AU
Find out more about author Jenny Colgan and her full back catalogue.