There are so many Christmas books published every year and it can be difficult to decide which to read. I hope to help with this week’s Christmas book review which is a real cracker if you’ll pardon the pun! I’ve read a few Sue Moorcroft books and love her style of writing, her knack for creating characters you warm to and her ability to look at deep issues within the context of a romantic novel.
This book takes place over the run up to Christmas and we first meet the main character, Ava Bliss, shivering and downhearted after spending an unsuccessful day at Camden Market. She is a bespoke milliner and had taken some of her creations to the market hoping to make a bit money for Christmas. She’s really struggling for money as although she’s a really talented hat-maker, her hats are rather expensive. She’s a very proud women and does not want to tell her parents, who have retired to France, that she is finding it difficult to make ends meet. To make matters worse, she is being harassed by ex-boyfriend Harvey who doesn’t want to accept their relationship is over and is threatening to upload some rather revealing photos of Ava to social media. At a party with some friends she meets Sam Jermyn, owner of a public relations agency. Over the course of the next few weeks, Ava’s life is turned upside down by Sam.
The Christmas Promise is very topical as it looks at the negatives of social media as well as the way its power can be harnessed for good. Poor Ava was horrified at the thought of the photos of her being seen by those she cares about, particularly her ex-policeman father. This is something we hear a lot about in the media these days. It’s so easy to say or do something you then regret but it’s so difficult to stop things spreading in a world of instant communication via Twitter and Facebook. The smallest of things can be misconstrued, taken out of context and blown out of proportion. It made me angry to read of the guilt and shame that Ava felt when she thought of the photos. It hadn’t been her wisest move perhaps to allow them to be taken but she didn’t deserve to have her life made a misery by someone she thought she could trust. When, inevitably, some people did get to know of the photos existence, I had to say ‘hooray’ for Ava’s wonderful Dad as his reaction which was not at all what she expected.
Sam was just a wonderful character – I think I’m a little in love with him myself. As well as being totally gorgeous, he is a very principled man. Not perhaps what you might expect from someone whose job involves creating publicity for footballers and WAGs. The love he feels for his mum was clear and touching. Ava promises to create a hat in time for Christmas for his mum who is undergoing treatment for cancer. I thought that Sue Moorcroft wrote very sensitively about this issue, with the fears, worries and hopes of those facing cancer and their families seeming very real. The bond between Sam and his mum felt very real and more than once I had a lump in my throat reading their scenes.
Like many Christmas books, although the story takes place around Christmas it is a book which could easily be read any time of the year. In fact, Ava isn’t the biggest fan of Christmas at all and her feelings will no doubt resonate with others who don’t think this is the most wonderful time of the year. For me though, this book has all the elements I like to see in a Christmas book. Being with family and friends and appreciating the time you spend together is shown as so much more important than getting and giving lots of presents. Against all the odds, and with more than a few wobbles on the way, Ava has a wonderful Christmas in a book which gave me a warm feeling inside and left me with a smile on my face. At only 99p for Kindle at the time of writing, if you are only going to buy one Christmas book this year, I suggest you try this one.
My thanks to the publishers, Avon Books. for my review copy of this book. The Christmas Promise was published on 6th October in e-book and the paperback edition will follow on 1st December. You can order a copy online here: The Christmas Promise
From the back of the book
On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.
Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.
So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…