I read Summer Island by Natalie Normann earlier this year and really enjoyed my visit to the island off the Norwegian coast in the company of Jack and Ninni. You can read my review here: Summer Island. This time, Jack’s sister Holly is the focus of the book and instead of summertime, we visit the island just before Christmas. Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the book is about.
About the book
Cosy up in front of a fire and discover Christmas the Norwegian way…full of romance, cosy traditions and hygge!
In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable
After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.
Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.
Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.
Norway sounds really dark and cold in the winter months, so it’s no wonder that celebrating the festive season is so important to the islanders in this book. All the celebrations seem to be really needed to bring some light and cheer to the darkest months. I loved the sound of the Christmas market and would have enjoyed wandering round the various stalls, all wrapped up against the cold of course.
There is a lot about food in this book and it sounded good. Well, most of it did. I’m not too sure about the brown cheese and old cheese though, or about putting butter in my porridge! The cakes sounded amazing and the stews deliciously warming.
I have to mention Tor’s enormous cat Frøy. From the first time he comes into the book, probably saving Holly’s life, he really is a cat full of character and attitude. Like many cats, it’s obvious who is in charge in Tor’s house!
This is a slow burn and engaging romance with a bit of mystery surrounding why Holly had come to the island and what was going one with her hospital job. There was also a bit of the unknown about grumpy (though gorgeous!) bearded hermit Tor and what had happened to him. Christmas Island is an easy-to-read, charming read. I enjoyed reading about and learning a bit about Norwegian Christmas traditions. And if the food appealed to you, you will be pleased to find some recipes to try at the back of the book.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour. I purchased my own copy of this book. Christmas Island is published by One More Chapter and available now in paperback and ebook editions. You’ll find buying options for various retailers on the One More Chapter website here: Christmas Island
About the Author
Natalie Normann grew up in a shipping town on the west-coast of Norway and always wanted to be a writer. Actually, she wanted to smoke cigars and drink whiskey like Hemingway but settled for chocolate and the occasional glass of Baileys.
Her writing journey started with short stories in women’s magazines until her first book was published in 1995.