Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: A Proper Family Christmas

By Becky Gulc

‘Take one Queen Bee: Annabel Buchanan, with a perfect house in the country, a rich husband and a beautiful daughter, Izzy . . .

. . . and one large, loud family: the Bensons.

What happens when their worlds collide?

When Izzy suddenly falls dangerously ill, adoptee Annabel has to track down her biological family to see if they can help her daughter. But can she see past the Bensons' brash exteriors to the warm, loving people they are at heart?

With December just around the corner, is it too much to hope that the Bensons and the Buchanans can have a proper family Christmas?’ (Synopsis courtesy of

OK, bear with me, I know it’s not quite December yet, but please don’t let the mention of Christmas put you off. This is a book that was released in the run up to Christmas, has Christmas in the title but to be honest there’s very little of Christmas actually in it (and dare I say if I’d bought this expecting it to have a real Christmassy feel, I’d probably be a bit disappointed). So there’s no reason not to pick this book up on a cold winter’s night. Here is why I enjoyed A Proper Family Christmas:

When I read the synopsis I wondered if I was going to take to any of the characters, expecting the Buchanans to be aloof and the Bensons to be a bit, well, common. In actual fact I really liked the characters and they were all very relatable and they weren’t quite as extreme polar opposites as we might first believe, first impressions can be deceptive after all.

Annabel may seem to have everything on paper, but when her daughter Izzy falls ill this is a situation where money cannot help. The only thing that may help is finding her birth family--you guessed it--the Bensons. The multiple narratives definitely helped me as a reader to emphasise with both families and the difficulties faced by each one.

The best thing about this book for me was the younger characters, Izzy and Sophie, cousins who clash but develop such a touching bond, I loved the scenes with these two. I also loved Jack who is the Benson’s youngest child, such a character, and a thoughtful inquisitive one, this character’s actions had me crying at one point.

The subjects of adoption and Izzy’s need for a transplant were both covered very sensitively and with the different viewpoints presented we got to see how different people feel and react to situations. It definitely makes you think about how you’d feel, and how you’d act if that situation presented itself in your life. I liked how the book didn’t go down the route I thought it would near the end too, it felt real and it was quite emotional. I must say though despite the sensitive subjects it doesn’t feel like a heavy or serious book, there are some very funny moments in the book, especially Grandpa Bill’s scenes.

If you’re a fan of Chrissie’s work and have read A Proper Family Holiday, you’ll know doubt enjoy meeting the Benson characters again. I haven’t read that book yet but enjoyed this one and would recommend it.

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton  for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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