3 October 2009

Book Review: The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

The Xmas Factor was a great book to read during December because it is of course based around the magical time of Christmas. It tells us the tale of two mothers getting ready for Christmas and all the stress, trials and tribulations which come with it. Carol is a well-respected magazine editor, who has recently been taken off her incredibly magazine Style and told to edit the failing Women's Monthly. Carol has a young son called Tim, a lively 8 year old who misses his mum terribly when she has to work all hours to get her magazines to press.

Beth is spending her first proper Christmas with her new husband Jacob. However Beth is living in the shadow of Jacob's deceased wife Becca, whose stamp is still all over the house. Jacob's children Noel and the prickly Holly are coming to stay for Christmas with their respective partners. But she has been talked into hosting her village's Mistletoe Meet. So she has an entire village to impress, two step-children to befriend, not to mention keeping up with her job.

Although I think part of the reason I really enjoyed this book was because I was reading it at Christmas, the other major reason was that it was just brilliant. It is very grown-up Chick Lit, no fluffy stories or Cinderella type endings here. The characters are written as grown up women who are dealing with two lifestyles neither of them really saw themselves growing up with and learning to cope with the changes they are going through.

Carol was incredibly likeable because she was just a normal woman with a great talent for her job. You could see how the author have written her anguish at leaving her little boy all the time, and the guilt that comes with being a single parent when you have to work. I found that her little boy's character Tim was incredibly well-written and really brought across how much he missed his mum, yet not in too much of a guilt-trippy way! I think all mums out there wish their son would be like Tim, sheerly for how much he wanted his mum to be happy!

I didn't really warm to Beth's character at first, I found her a bit moany and a little hard to like. But as the story unravelled and Beth came out of her shell a bit more, she was a very normal and likeable person. You could see how hard she was trying with her step-children and her difficulty in communicating with them because she has no children of her own. The relationship between Holly and Beth was particualrly interesting to read and had me gripped to the end, just to see if they would ever put aside their differences and get on. The rest of Beth's family were nice characters too.

I especially liked how all of the characters were brought together in the end and showed a solidarity for each other in their hours of need. This book really is a heart-warming tale of how people get the wrong impressions of people but when they are willing to let people in, great friendships can flourish. The book is so wonderfully written, you can really get into this book and find yourself in the countryside with thick snow in Beth's huge house one minute, and in the bustling streets of London fighting your way to Hamley's with a harassed Carol. That is all due to the great writing by this author, and what encourages me to always pick up an Annie Sanders novel. A great novel to read, especially at Christmas!

Rating: 5/5


  1. I've got this book in my teetering tbr pile/s, so I'm glad to see that it's good. I look forward to reading it soon.

  2. Hi there,
    chicklitreviews.com - da best. Keep it going!