15 February 2017
Book Review: A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby
It's the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.
But Kirsty soon learns that it's not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there's Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after... or reveal their love to be nothing but a 'showmance'?
With Christmas just around the corner, it's going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball."
The idea of this book really appealed to me, not least because it's a festive themed novel, and it's by one of my favourite authors Chrissie Manby! The cover, too, was perfect, something I would love to see on a Christmas card actually! This is a standalone novel, which is a breakaway from Chrissie's other 'Perfect family' series that she has published as of late, but it was nice to meet some other characters, and to dive into something completely different! The main character for this book is actually one who has popped up in a 'Proper Family' book, the one where the Bensons went on a cruise. Kirsty is the friend of someone else who went on that cruise, so while the Bensons weren't in this book, they were here in spirit!
I loved Kirsty right from the beginning. She's given up her dream job of being a cruise ship singer to move with her new boyfriend Jon to the village of Newbay, where he's got a job directing a local theatre group's pantomime of Cinderella. I did question at first how readily Kirsty gave up her job for a relatively new man in her life, but I guess we all make mistakes and dive into something without thinking every now and then! She reasoned it with herself by knowing she would get the lead in the play, but even so, I felt she was giving up a lot for someone I disliked immensely. Jon was a horrible character, always putting Kirsty down, whether it be on the sly or completely obviously, and I hate men like that.
On the other hand, the other main male character in the book is single dad Ben. His young daughter has won her own part in the panto, and of course Ben is dragged along for auditions. When disaster befalls the production, Ben winds up being thrust into the middle of the action despite not having trodden the boards for many years! This leads to much hilarity, but also some sweet scenes between Kirsty and Ben as they get to know each other, and she encourages him to want to perform once more. I did hope these two would end up together, especially because his daughter deserved someone like Kirsty in her life to act as a step mum!
Sometimes, when a book has a big cast it can be a problem to follow who's who, but this wasn't the case for this book at all. Each of the people in NEWTS were so unique, I had no problem with keeping track of them, and I think they all added something special to the story, and really rounded the whole thing off. Manby has a knack for writing her characters, and this novel was by no means an exception. The relationships between them all were realistic too, with jealousy, support, laughter, and much more going on, they were wonderfully written and rounded characters. The setting of Newbay was lovely too, and I can see why Kirsty was drawn to the charms of the village, it sounds wonderful.
This was a lovely festive novel, and was brimming with festive cheer throughout, as the panto season kicks off as Christmas fas approaches. You'll find yourself tearing through the pages of this book to get to the end and see who Cinderella herself ends up with, and if horrible Jon would finally get his comeuppance. This really was a joy to read right until the very last page, and I'll be sad if this is the last we see of Kirsty and co, because I really felt like I got to love them as I got so involved in their pantomime and story! I can't quite believe this is Chrissie Manby's 20th novel, and I'm eagerly hoping there will be something from her sooner than next Christmas!