12 February 2017

Book Review: Lizzie's Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

"A gorgeous country house hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas? 

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be …

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction?"

Rating: 4/5

I was browsing through my Kindle a few weeks ago, and stumbled across this festive read from Christie Barlow. Somehow, I haven't yet managed to read a book from this author, so was eager to find out what the book was going to be like, and if I had found another new author that I could love. Luckily, the book and author didn't let me down, it was a wonderful story and brilliantly written, making me very excited to read more from Christie Barlow, both her older books and upcoming release Evie's Year of Taking Chances, which is coming out next month.

Lizzie feels like she has to make a change in her life, but doesn't really know where to start. Her marriage has become a bit stale, husband Henry is more interested in watching the TV than he is romancing his wife, and her daughters have gone to university, leaving her all but alone in her home. So when she notices a new neighbour moving in next door, Lizzie introduces herself and strikes up a new friendship with Marcus. She knows she's playing with fire, and when best friend Ann suggests a girls weekend away, Lizzie realises it might be just the escape from her shocking reality that she needs...

I love a book that I can get into from the very first pages, and this was definitely the case for this book. Barlow throws us straight into Lizzie's life, showing us that she's very unhappy but doesn't quite know how to get herself out of the rut that she has found herself in at the moment. I liked Lizzie, and felt sorry for her because she really did seem so lonely. Her best friend Ann was wonderful, but she was lonely in her marriage, and wasn't utilising the skills she had herself, which was dressmaking. Lizzie was very likeable, even when she was making some very questionable decisions, and I really wasn't sure throughout the book how I wanted it all to end, because there were so many endings that could happen in my head!

I could see why Lizzie had her head turned by her lovely new neighbour, and how easily the pair struck up a friendship. I did have my suspicions about him, but thought that it was just me being a bit of a downer, Marcus did seem lovely, even if he was a bit inappropriate considering he knew that Lizzie was married! The story between these two runs throughout the whole book, and certainly left me wondering in parts when it would all fall apart, if at all! There's also another plot involving Ann and her husband, which was just as riveting, and again allows room for lots of scenes between the best friends.

One thing I do have to say is that the Christmas escape in the title of the book is actually a very small part of the story as a whole, in fact, it could have been a bit of a blink and you'll miss it storyline, it happened so quickly, and was over again just as quickly. I thought the book would be centred around this whole girly getaway, so I was a bit surprised when it didn't. It didn't stop me really enjoying the book of course, but I was just surprised that something so prominently in the title and blurb of the book was really a very small part of the book as a whole.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end, and felt I went on a real emotional journey with these characters, especially Lizzie who seemed quite lost really. She had lost her children (not really lost them, but in the sense they've moved away and are getting on with their lives), all but lost her marriage, and lost her own spark and sense of self-worth, and I enjoyed reading about her trying to reclaim some of these things as the book went on. Barlow's writing was really enjoyable, the pace was great, and there was always something going on to entertain the reader, and I liked the festive feeling woven throughout the book. I'll definitely be reading more from Christie Barlow, the sooner the better!

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