24 January 2017

Book Review: Christmas on Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

"Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn and his family busily preparing for the holiday season. 

Though the year has brought tragedy, the Quinns have much to celebrate: Kelley has reunited with his first wife Margaret, Kevin and Isabelle have a new baby; and Ava is finally dating a nice guy. 

But when Kelley's wife Mitzi shows up on the island, along with Kevin's devious ex-wife Nora and a dangerously irresistible old fling of Ava's, the Inn is suddenly overrun with romantic feuds, not to mention guests. 

With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it's going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns - and the Inn - through the holidays intact."

Rating: 4/5

I will honest and say that I was drawn to this book entirely because of the cover. I loved it, and straight away felt it was going to be a book that was festive, and that I would enjoy. I wasn't wrong, and I did enjoy it, but I do wish I had known it was a sequel before I started reading it because I was lost for quite a big portion of the book, as this really is a follow-on and it took me a while to settle in to who was who, what the heck was going on and everything else about the story. Now, I want to reread it as part of the series, with the book that follows this also to get the full story about the families on Nantucket!

The book is based around the Quinn family, who own the Winter Street Inn between them. Kelley, the owner, has been surprised by his wife Mitzi admitting a lengthy affair and leaving him for the subject of her new affections, but is shocked when his ex-wife Nora shows up on the scene once more. His son Kevin has had a new baby with his girlfriend, his daughter can't seem to settle down with anyone and his daughter-in-law is struggling to mother her three boys alone while her husband (Kelley's other son) is in prison. Not forgetting of course their Marine son who is MIA in Afghanistan causing the family perpetual worry. Will the Quinn family be able to sort everything in time for Christmas?

As I mentioned, I started this book and really had no clue what was going on, to the point where I was actually going to give up on it. I had no background on any of these characters, I felt I was completely thrown into the middle of the story and there was really no explanation as to what was going on, like I've had in other books that are part of a series. I actually resorted to researching it online myself after a while, because I was getting a tad frustrated. However, once I had got it all sorted, I knew who was who and what was going on, I felt happier and more able to get involved in the story.

One thing I will say here is don't go into this one expecting a happy little Christmas tale. There's quite a bit of upset, sadness, and tears throughout the book, I wondered if the Quinn's every had any happiness in their lives! Each branch of the family had their own problems, and I felt so sorry for all of them. I especially found the story of Kelley's Marine son missing quite hard, you can see how it's impacted everyone, especially his mother Mitzi. It was heart-breaking, and really hard to read, her grief was so profound. She just wants her son back and you really sense that through Hilderbrand's writing.

I really enjoyed how deeply Hilderbrand goes into detail with this book. She isn't afraid to confront a range of emotions within this story, all heightened because of the festive time of year and the pressure that everyone is under due to their own personal problems. One story that resonated a lot with me was Kelley's daughter-in-law Jennifer struggling to raise her three children alone, while her husband is in prison. She was clearly finding things so tough, her children were being typical kids, complete with horrible attitudes, and I could see how she was driven to the drastic steps she took. I just wished someone in the Quinn family had noticed what was going on a bit earlier, she really did help and positive guidance rather than judgment.

Overall, I felt this was a very enjoyable read but as I mentioned, I do wish I had known it was the second book in a series, as I feel it would have read much better straight after the first book. However, now I've read this, I'm desperate to read the third book in the series, Winter Storms, so I can see how the Quinn family story is going to be resolved. It's a very gritty, emotional book set at Christmas, so it isn't over-flowing with Christmas cheer, but does have Christmas woven throughout it. It's my first book by Elin Hilderbrand, and I will be reading more, but certainly looking out for her standalone novels initially!

Note: This book is called Winter Stroll in USA.

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