5 March 2016
Book Review: What Happens at Christmas by T. A. Williams
When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew.
Arriving in the sleepy little Dartmoor village, she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited the cosy little cottage she remembers so fondly, a whole load of money – and her father’s adorable dog, too!
Head to snow-covered Devon!
And as the first snowflakes begin to fall and Holly bumps into her gorgeous neighbour, Jack Nelson, life gets even more complicated! Men have always been off the cards for high-flying Holly, but there’s something about mysterious writer Jack that has her re-thinking her three-date rule…"
You can buy the eBook now.
I have read several books by T.A. Williams now, and several of them have been 'What Happens...' stories. I do love a good Christmas novel, so was very pleased when I was able to download this one from Netgalley to review. Although there are a few books with the title 'What Happens...', they aren't actually a series of any kind, instead they are stand-alone stories, and I really looked forward to reading this one. It definitely disappoint, and is one of my favourite stories so far by T.A. Williams, complete with the most gorgeous festive cover!
This book is the story of Holly Brice. She's recently found out her estranged father has died, and has left her his home in a Dartmoor village. Holly isn't sure she wants to leave her London life behind, so heads there over the festive period, intending to sort out her father's belongings and get the place ready to be sold. But when she's there, Holly meets many old friends of her deceased father's, and starts to piece together a man she never got the chance to know for herself. As well as this, she meets a handsome neighbour, Jack, who seems extremely nice and keen for Holly to settle down in her new home. Holly isn't so sure, but can she be swayed at this magical time of year?
I love books that are set in cosy little English villages at Christmas time, so immediately this book piqued my interest and I couldn't wait to get started with it! The story opens with Holly at the reading of her father's will, and finding out she has been left his home and some money. She's understandably surprised, and heads there with her friend to start the process of getting rid of her father's things. You can tell that Holly didn't have a high opinion of her father, mainly through how her mother has influenced her opinion of him since he wasn't around when she was going up, and that made me feel a bit sad, that a parent can behave that way to their child. As the story goes on, and Holly uncovers things, it seems that her opinion of her father may be slightly skewed, and that he wasn't the monster she was raised to believe he was.
The emotion is the story is high, especially when Holly uncovers some letters that her father wrote to her every year that he was never able to send. You can really feel her grief and sorrow as she is reading them, her anger at being deprived from reading these as she was growing up, and the sadness she feels at a relationship she will never get the chance to have. In this respect, it is quite bittersweet but I was pleased that Holly was able to open her mind and find out some truths, even though of course it was too late to build bridges with her father.
The story itself takes place in the ten day run up to Christmas, with each chapter being a different day. As Holly gets more involved in the village, she meets lots of the villagers who speak highly of her father, and they are very welcoming, sure she is going to stay and build a new life in the village with them! I really liked all of these characters who kept popping up, they really were thoroughly involved in each other's lives, and it was fun to read about Holly trying to escape their clutches, and getting to know them at the same time. Jack, her neighbour, in particular sounded lovely, and you could see why Holly was quite taken by him!
T.A. Williams describes the small village beautifully, and the festive feeling throughout the book is plain to see. The village loves celebrating Christmas, and Holly is drawn into that, even arranging to have Christmas dinner in the village. The descriptions of the snow covered streets and houses were beautiful, I loved imagining them as I was reading, it sounds like my idea of paradise! Another wonderful addition to the book was her late father's dog Stirling, who very quickly befriends Holly and become very much a main part of Holly's life there. The dog is written so wonderfully, a real companion for Holly, and although he is just a dog, he was very much a main character of the book, and I loved how important he was throughout the book. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and thought it was a cosy, romantic and heart-warming read, whether or not you read it Christmas! It's got a lot of emotion, snow, festive feeling and love within the pages, what more could you want?!