I enjoyed a quick read of The Reading Group: December over breakfast on 1st December. Like opening the doors of an advent calendar, this story will unfold in a series of novellas introducing us to the members of a reading group, as month by month we follow their lives and book choices. December introduced us to Grace who is facing a miserable Christmas for various reasons and feels she is like the Cratchit family in A Christmas Carol. One of her triplet sons has been seriously ill causing strain on the family finances and now it seems that their home may be at risk, just before Christmas. With the help and support of her reading group, Grace and her family have a much happier Christmas than she thought possible.
Moving on to January, the focus of the story changes to Anne-Marie. She is the owner of a cleaning business and the rather spoiled daughter of a rich businessman. She decides to try her hand at matchmaking following the engagement of two of her friends who met at her birthday party. She decides that one of her young cleaners, who is considering marrying her boyfriend, can do much better and determines to set her up with one of her neighbours. Does this interfering character sounds familiar? Well she probably should as this story is inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, which the Reading Group are reading that month. There’s not too much focus on the group this time, although they do think it’s hilarious that Anne-Marie doesn’t seem to notice the similarities between herself and Emma!
I thoroughly enjoyed both of these short stories. Although I suspect any of the books in the series could be read as a stand-alone. I definitely recommend reading them all so you can really get to know the characters. It was great fun looking for all the references to the novels the Reading Group are reading that month throughout the story. The strength of the friendship between the members of the group and the value of having a supportive network is clear throughout. I think all the characters are going to have their good points as well as their faults and I’m looking forward to getting to know them all as the series progresses. The February instalment is already available and the group are reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover – can’t wait!
The December part of the story is free for Kindle on Amazon at the time of writing and I must thank publishers Quercus for allowing me to read the January instalment via netgalley. You can buy December, January and February here: The Reading Group