25 October 2012
Book Review: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements
I started my festive reviews the other day with 'Married by Christmas' by Scarlett Bailey, which was a fantastic read, and I carry it on today with a very exciting debut novel! Abby Clements' new book Meet Me Under the Mistletoe has an absolutely stunning cover, so Christmassy and pretty, and it's a bit sparkly in real life too. After reading the blurb, it seemed like it would the perfect winter read to snuggle up under a blanket to read in the cold weather, and now I've finished it, it seems like I was definitely right! I always worry that Christmas-themed books aren't going to be set enough at Christmas, but Clements hasn't disappointed on that front either. I loved everything about this book, and can't wait for more from Abby Clements now!
Rachel and Laurie were the best of friends at high school, but as they grew up, they couldn't help but grow apart. Rachel got married young and started a family, and she's happy with her life in a home full of love and children, but in a sleepy, country village. Laurie, on the other hand, is living the life she always wanted in London, working in fashion. But when Laurie starts to make mistakes at work, she realises she has to take some time out. At the same time, Rachel's mother-in-law falls badly ill and Rachel is forced to go to London with her and the children to help her through it. Laurie and Rachel decide on a house-swap to make life easier, but are surprised to find out the reality of their former best friends lives. As Christmas draws ever closer, will the pair make it home in time for Christmas, and will they be happy with the lives they once had after their change of circumstances?
There was something about this book that drew me right in, and I was completely absorbed right from the beginning. I loved the cast of characters, and the way the book was told through alternate chapters was fantastic, and really allowed you to get totally involved in both stories without feeling like you're missing out on either of them. Rachel was the one I could relate to most of all - a busy mum trying to be everything at once, and feeling like you're failing at them all! I really liked her relationship with her mother-in-law, it seemed very close and natural, and in fact all of Rachel's relationships were fun to read about, especially the awkward one between her and her teenage daughter Milly. It was stilted and you as the reader know that they are hiding secrets, but are just waiting for it to all come out! In fact, the relationships with these supporting characters were almost just as important as the one between Rachel and Laurie, and I loved that about this book as it really gave it a rounded read.
Laurie took a little while to become someone I liked, simply because I found it harder to feel sorry for her. She was a little career-obsessed, not necessarily a bad thing but it came at the expense of someone she really cared about, and a few of those scenes really annoyed me if I'm honest! However, as the book progressed, she mellowed out a lot and it was nice to see her undergo a bit of a change of character as she settled into Rachel's life. Clements writes about the places through visitor's eyes beautifully, from the bustling festive streets of London that Rachel is totally unused to, and Laurie is shocked to the core by cold, quiet, idyllic Yorkshire where she doesn't see a new face from day to day. I found Clements' descriptions of Yorkshire were stunning, it sounds beautiful and the perfect place to spend the festive season! The residents of Laurie's new village were fantastic too, from crazy neighbour Diana to the ladies at the charity... all so realistic and made me smile a lot!
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is a wonderful read, and I truly didn't want it to end. It's light-hearted, it's fun and it made me smile - it's everything I wanted in a Christmas book, and I loved feeling Christmassy as the characters within began their own preparations for the build-up to Christmas, although in very different circumstances from what they'd all expected! It shows you how a change of scenery can do you the world of good, and that your priorities aren't always right, even though you think they are! I loved this book, and I hope Clements has a plethora of exciting Christmas novels to come because this is simply a brilliant debut. I loved it, and urge you all to buy it, either for yourself as an early Christmas present, or for someone you love at Christmas - they'll love YOU for it!
You can buy Meet Me Under the Mistletoe as a paperback or an eBook!