The main character in this book is Jane, an investigative journalist who broke a huge story earlier in the year but at the cost of her relationship due to all the hours she had put into the story. Still trying to avoid her ex in the office, she is sent on an all expenses paid lavish trip to Norway to cover the Queen of the Forest ceremony, where the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is chosen, a gift from the people of Norway. She is less than happy to be spending this trip in the company of a sharp-tongued publicist, several young bloggers constantly taking photos for the perfect Instagram shot, a rather full of himself TV presenter and her always cheerful photographer colleague Ben. They are also accompanied by an old soldier, Thomas, who was involved in the Norwegian King’s escape from Norway during the Second world War.
The first third or so of the book was really about getting to know the characters, and setting the scene and what a fabulous setting it was. Jenny Gladwell made Norway sound like a real wintry paradise with gorgeous food, cosy fires and snowy woods. I was rather jealous of the various activities the group got to take part in such as visiting the Christmas markets, travelling on a steam train, taking part in a chocolate making workshop and having skiing lessons.
The story really took off for me when old soldier Thomas asks Jane to find some love letters he wrote during the war to Marit, a woman he shared a passionate night with just before they aided King Haakon’s escape. To my shame, I didn’t know about what happened with the king during the war. I was aware that there was a connection between Britain and Norway and knew about the tree bring donated every year as mark of gratitude. In fact, the Christmas tree on the Mound here in Edinburgh is also gifted by the people of Norway. I would have liked to have learned a little more in the book about his escape which was only touched on briefly. However, this did make me go away and look up what happened and it’s good when a book stimulates my curiosity.
Although there was definitely an element of romance in the book, indeed Jane has three men vying for her affections throughout the story, for me the the storyline about trying to uncover the secrets from the past was what I enjoyed most and in fact went in a different direction than I had expected. This made it a bit different from other festive stories. I also enjoyed that the various women who hadn’t initially got along, finally bonding and sticking up for each other towards the end.
A Gift in December is an enjoyable read which will whisk you away to a beautiful snowy setting and offers a glimpse into the past, as well as being a heartwarming romance. It would be a perfect cosy read to enjoy on a chilly winter’s day.
My thanks to the publishers Hodder for my review copy of the book through Netgalley. A Gift in December is available in paperback and ebook formats. At the time of writing the Kindle version is only 99p but please check before buying. You will find various buying options on the publisher’s website here: A Gift in December
From the back of the book
Jane has given up on love. She might have uncovered the news scandal of the year, but she’s also been dumped by boyfriend Simon . . . and has spent the last month avoiding him at the office.
With Christmas fast-approaching, Jane’s heart is no closer to mending.
But Jane’s boss has other plans for her. She needs someone to go on a luxurious press trip to Norway to cover the story of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree and she’s selected Jane to go.
Jane would much rather wallow at home than spend a week in the fjords with some ditzy bloggers, a snippy publicist, ever-cheerful colleague Ben and handsome-but-arrogant TV presenter Philip Donnelly.
But as Jane throws herself into the trip and starts to enjoy herself, it seems that love hasn’t quite given up on her just yet…
Amid all the snow, could a gift be awaiting her underneath the mistletoe?
About the author
Jenny Gladwell is a pen name for Genevieve Herr. Genevieve was born and grew up in London and began working in publishing after university. She studied for a Creative Writing MA alongside her job as a children’s book editor at Scholastic, and her dissertation was awarded the Sophie Warne Memorial essay prize for outstanding emerging writer. Genevieve lives in Scotland with her family.