15 November 2016
Blog Tour: Book Review: It's A Wonderful Life by Julia Williams
Driving home for Christmas, Beth has everything she wants. The kids and the house, the career and the husband. So why is it that when the New Year comes, she can’t stop thinking about her old college boyfriend?
Her husband Daniel is tasked with bringing a struggling school up to scratch, but when family life catches up to him, can he be a good father and a good teacher at the same time?
Beth’s sister Lou has just been dumped…again. Single and childless, she can’t help but be jealous of her sibling’s success. But is the grass really always greener?
It’s a Wonderful Life is a heart-warming novel about the lives that could have been, and what happens when you start to question the choices you made… "
You can buy the book now.
I am a huge fan of Julia Williams, so was thrilled to be asked to be part of her blog tour for her brand new festive novel It's A Wonderful Life. Amazingly this is Julia's tenth novel, and I'm pretty sure I've read them all so that's testament to how good this author's stories are, that I keep going back for more! This one is based around one family - Beth, her husband and children, her parents, sister, and to a lesser extent her brother. Beth loves that the family all come together at Christmas, but is sure one year she'd like a change from the usual predictable Christmas day. But when an old flame shows up will she be tempted, given how stressed the rest of her family and her marriage appears to be?
This book flits around quickly between the characters, chopping and changing every few pages to change story. However, I didn't have any trouble keeping up, but I did wish in parts that certain narratives were longer. Also, I wasn't too sure why Beth and Lou's stories were in the first person, but when we switched to Daniel, Beth's husbands story it became third person. It did make the reading interesting, but I would have liked to have known Daniel more from his perspective as I found his story intriguing to read, and found him to be very likeable.
Beth herself, on the other hand, I struggled to warm to. She seemingly had it all - a wonderful family, lovely hard-working husband, two teenagers and a successful career. However, she couldn't seem to help being tempted when a blast from her past reappears, and no matter how much she tried to talk herself out of her situations, I just couldn't sympathize with her and wanted her to do the right thing and stay well away from him! It's not often I don't warm to a main character, but I liked that Julia wrote her this way because it definitely got my feelings going for the book.
One of my bugbears is books that have festive covers, promising a festive story inside then it doesn't really deliver on that. This, sadly, is one of those books. Yes, it opens with a Christmas scene, and Beth is writing a children's christmas story throughout, but really there isn't much festive feeling going on. I like a book to be set fully at Christmas, with lots of Christmassy description and so that's why I have marked it down from being a 4.5 star read - this takes place throughout an entire year so to market as a Christmas book isn't quite right for me.
However, it is still a very well written and enjoyable book! I liked the fact it focuses on one family, how the decisions each of them makes impacts on those around them, particular the adults on the teenagers which was interesting and something we don't necessarily get to see a lot in women's fiction. The love for each other throughout the family was clearly there though and I liked how they stuck by each other, even when things seemed to be falling apart. There's lots of issues being tackled throughout the book, ensuring there is always something going on to grab your attention, and by the end I felt like I had been on a real emotional journey with Beth and co! A really enjoyable read, even if it is lacking in festive feeling! Definitely recommended.