13 July 2015

Book Review: It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

"Thea's parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea. even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea's boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can't decide whether or not she minds.

There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements.

As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy It Must Have Been the Mistletoe as a hardback or an eBook now.

I love Judy Astley's books, so I was really excited to see that her latest book is a festive release! I love Christmas books, as you probably know, so I was really excited to read this. The last few books from Judy that I have read were really enjoyable stories, so I had really high hopes for this one too! Luckily, I wasn't let down by this brilliant book, and I totally devoured it from start to finish, I couldn't put it down. It's the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas, and here's why I think It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is a must-read Christmas story!

After telling their children that they have decided to get a divorce, Thea's parents want one last Christmas together before they go their separate ways. Thea is newly single herself, and isn't exactly keen on the idea of having a big family get-together, still unsure whether her break-up was a good thing or not. Her brother and sister are happily settled with their own marriages and children, and it makes Thea feel a bit like she's getting left behind. But as snow begins to rapidly fall on their Christmas get-together, Thea and her family have to cope with the arrival of new partners, arguments and a few strangers as well...

I really liked the idea of this story - it was really original, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from the beginning! Anna and Mike, Thea's parents, were very interesting characters and I liked them both right from the start. They're very open from the start of the book about the end of their marriage, although as the book goes on and new partners are introduced, you can really they are beginning to feel somewhat unsure about their decisions - it is after all the end of an era and a big decision to have come to! I liked that they wanted one last Christmas as a family with their children Thea, Jimi and Emily, and this is of course what the story is based around.

Thea was the main character of the book, and I enjoyed reading about her and her story. She's recently ended her relationship, and if you ask me, it's a good thing she is away from her ex-boyfriend - he's keener of dogs than he was Thea! She is also hiding a bit of a secret that is heart-breaking, but is determined to not let it ruin her Christmas with her family. I liked the relationships Thea has in the book - in particular that which she has with her sister Emily - she is determined to help her sister who seems unusually stressed and upset throughout the book, and as it becomes clear why, it's a very emotional part of the story. As well as the family, there is the appearance of new partners - Charlotte in particular was very amusing to read about! There's also a local surfer Sean who pops up a lot, and I was hopeful of something between he and Thea!

The family element of this book is what made it so readable. Yes, there's a fair amount of conflict in the book, family arguments, upset and tears too, but it felt incredibly realistic - you could believe this could happen to your own family, or to someone you know. I liked how realistic the characters were when I was reading, Astley's writing is just brilliant and really does bring these characters to life on the page. The setting of Cornwall was perfect too, very cosy and festive feeling, and the snowstorm adds a little drama into the mix - I adore the idea of a snowy Christmas so this book was perfect for me! As well as the drama, there was a lot of festive feeling about this book, and it was a fantastic read for this festive season. Astley's writing was fantastic, creating a wonderful setting with realistic and brilliant characters, and I do hope we will see more of Thea and her family in the future! A brilliant festive read.

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