Monday, December 12, 2022

Book Review: The Christmas Holiday

By Becky Gulc

I’d somehow never read a Phillipa Ashley novel before being sent The Christmas Holiday for review. I do love a festive novel and was drawn in by the synopsis and the lovely cover. This was to be my first Christmas novel this year and I couldn’t wait to dive in, a hot chocolate by my side. So what is it about?

‘She’s planned the perfect Christmas. But fate might have other ideas…

Krystle didn’t have a normal childhood and longed for warm family Christmases with presents under the tree. Now she makes sure everyone else has the perfect Christmas she never had, bringing beautiful decorations to cheer as many people as possible.

With her festive business booming, she decides to celebrate by renting a secluded house in the Lakes, with a plan to make this the ultimate yuletide getaway.

But fate immediately throws a spanner in the works in the form of a broken-down car, a flooded river and Max; a man who despises Christmas.

Krystle becomes determined to show Max the joys of the holiday. She won’t take no for an answer.

Can she melt Max’s Grinch-like heart? And can he show her that life doesn’t need to go to plan to take you somewhere magical…’ (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

The Christmas Holiday is a fabulous read. The first few chapters draw you in completely. Firstly, you get to know a bit of Krystle’s difficult childhood and a recent loss she’s experienced. I found it quite refreshing to read about a central character that had experienced poverty, loneliness and isolation, it resonated with me and I was rooting for Krystle from the very beginning. 

When Krystle and her boyfriend Brett arrive in the lake district for a much needed long break away it gets off to a bad start when Brett attempts to drive through a flooded Ford, it’s all very dramatic. I was on tenterhooks and couldn’t put the book down!

The novel navigates Krystle’s time in the lakes, she so desperately needs this break but it isn’t quite the break she had planned with Brett when work keeps him busy. Krystle immerses herself in the local community, drawing on her ‘Mrs. Christmas’ day job and bringing an extra festive touch to those that need and deserve it.

I loved the dynamics of Krystle and Max’s relationship. I could visualise the silent instant connection between these characters and loved how their story developed through the novel. Max is a bit of a loner and he’s not easy to get to know but it was great to see how this evolved when Krystle was around.

I have to say the setting is wonderful. I was lucky enough to spend a week in the lakes this summer and I was taken right back there (including the narrow roads!) when reading this. This is helped by an aspect of the story which revolves around the local Mountain Rescue Team, which on more than one occasion brings the community together and has the reader on edge towards the end of the book. I had such clear images in my head of these locations and the drama of it all. I do love a novel that transports you to a lovely (and potentially dangerous!) location and this book definitely does that, it’s also very Christmassy as you’d expect but never in a cheesy way! There are some lovely moments.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. It’s just a perfect festive (or anytime!) read. Cosy up and enjoy this and I will definitely be catching up on some of Phillipa’s previous novels as they look equally enjoyable for their locations and festive feels!

Thanks to Avon for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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