Last Christmas- Julia Williams

Got some catching up to do here, as this book has been out for a couple of years and there is already a sequel- but there’s no rush. This seasonal English tale focuses mainly on the lives of four characters from one Christmas to the next. City girl and teacher Marianne starts off engaged to too-good-to-be-true Luke, who soon shows his bad side, leaving her finding her feet in a Shropshire village that rejoices in the name of Hope Christmas. Gabriel lives there too, but he’s a returnee, reclaiming his roots as a sheep farmer and making a new home for his young son after his wife abandoned them both. Meanwhile in London, engineer and father of four Noel is feeling increasingly lost as his job forces him to work on an environmentally disastrous project near Hope Christmas, and his wife Cat is too busy to focus on him. Cat however, has problems of her own, the au-pair from hell, a blogging career gone crazy, and a mother showing frightening signs of dementia. Events hop back and forth between the Christmas period one year, and the whole of the following year leading up to Christmas again, where their lives converge.

Kooks for your Kindle?– The author’s strength here is to have created a varied and realistic selection of characters, with a few fun locals thrown in for good measure. I’ve put the book into the ‘Supernatural Froth’ category only because of one character, hope I’m not spoiling the book here, but there’s obviously something special about him. Many of the characters have Christmassy names, Noel Tinsall, Gabriel and Eve among others. Thankfully there’s no Holly, for two of my recently reviewed books had her as a heroine. Cat’s mother Louise was particularly sensitively portrayed as she becomes more and more clouded with dementia.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Most of the characters are pleasingly assertive enough, although Magda the au-pair gets away some stunning shenanigans before Cat gets up the nerve to fire her.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– I seem to have read a few books lately where people give up the cold loneliness of city life to live in harmony in the warm community of a rural village, and there find love and fulfillment; especially among Christmas reads. Hopefully it’s possible for the rest of us who don’t have sheep and funny old folks next door to have a good festive season, or we’re all in trouble! Don’t get me wrong, it does sound appealing.

Nookie for your Nook?– Clean as a whistle, I’d like to say mother-in-law proof, but as there is one unpleasant mother-in-law in the book she might take it the wrong way. Although this one (Angela) does have a rather major personality improvement towards the end.

Evaluation of your eBook?– I found the structure a little uneven, flashing back and forth between two Christmases was fine, but the ‘last year’ period was only over a week or so and the ‘this year’ seemed to be over a whole year. However this kept the pages turning due to a few cliffhanger chapter ends. On the whole a nice warm seasonal read, categorised as ‘Frothy with Substance’ as the subject matter also includes some serious topics; mental illness, dementia, bullying and redundancy. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s not all doom and gloom; it’s a heartwarming tale, quite humorous and the villagers liven things up. It’s a fairly substantial read, long enough to keep you entertained on holiday journeys, and well worth the price (below).

Frothy Ranking: 3/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: £1.99 from Amazon.

US: $3.79 from Amazon.

Comments are closed.