‘Thea’s parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea… even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea’s boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can’t decide whether or not she minds.
There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements.
As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Random House UK.)
It’s a couple of weeks since I finished reading this book now and it makes me feel warm inside just thinking about it. I’m sure most of us would agree that Christmas is about family spending time with one another, and even though we might not see each other that often in the year it’s a time to come together, to reaffirm relationships, this book has at its core the family unit and I loved it for that. No, the family unit might not be as tight as it once was with these particular parents (Anna and Mike) declaring they’re going to get divorced, but this made it all the more interesting, they are on good terms after all so why not spend one last Christmas all together?
It wouldn’t be a Christmas book without snow, and lots of it, and it certainly delivers on that front! I loved the sense of place in this book, the family rent a house in Cornwall for the festivities and I felt transported there, along with the snowy treks to the local pub and being snowed in. Very atmospheric.
Character wise, I enjoyed each one, particularly Thea and her parents. I wasn’t so sure about Emily (Thea’s sister), she seemed very downtrodden and whilst I thought there might be a reveal which would explain this by the end, the one which was didn’t seem to quite fit with what I was expecting and that part of the story I wasn’t so sure about. Other than that I loved the different dynamics at play between the different family members, the different generations involved and of course the impromptu guests and lovely neighbours to mix everything up a bit. Let’s be honest, if you’ve just found out your parents are splitting up you wouldn’t exactly be that keen to suddenly meet your dad’s new ‘squeeze’ and your mum’s new ‘friend’ would you? Never mind spend Christmas with them! But somehow, it’s such a positive book, positive and quirky characters in the main. A bunch of people I was very happy to spend a fictional Christmas with.
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is a perfect book to enjoy with a lovely mug of hot chocolate!
Thanks to Bantam Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.
More by Judy Astley: