3 December 2010

Book Review: Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley

Christmas has recently been a sad time for Holly Brown. Her beloved husband Dan died at Christmas after falling into a frozen lake, and therefore Holly has decided she doesn't actually want to celebrate the festive season anymore. So when she gets a call from her house-sitting boss about a remote house in the middle of nowhere for the Christmas period, Holly jumps at the chance of being alone so she can ignore it altogether. However, when she gets there she discovers that the home of the Martland family isn't as deserted as she thought, and that are quite a welcoming family who like to get involved with their guests. Couple that with Holly's gran's diaries that she is reading, and Holly doesn't have the quiet festive season that she anticipated... not to mention the fact that it seems Holly has more of a link to the Martland's than she ever could have imagined. Will Holly finally be able to enjoy the Twelve Days of Christmas?

I absolutely adore festive reads at this special time of year so when a copy of the gorgeous looking Twelve Days of Christmas landed on my doorstep a few days ago, I couldn't help but pick it up and start to read the first few pages, and it had me hooked! There's something nice about reading about characters celebrating the Christmas period along with us, and it's cosy to read about cold winter scenes when we are going through them too! I wondered if Ashley's take on her Christmas tale would be slightly depressing due to the main character Holly not liking the festive season, but instead I was greeted with a warm and wonderful tale of a family taking a lonely young widow under their wing at the most fabulous time of year!

We begin meeting Holly Brown at home, and finding out that she doesn't celebrate Christmas herself anymore. We aren't immediately told why except that it is something to do with her husband that isn't around anymore. I was wondering how Ashley would be able to weave all things Christmassy into the book because of Holly's dislike of Christmas, but as the book progresses, it's clear how that is going to happen, and I really enjoyed the build up to Christmas within, it's very subtle but works really well. I liked Holly as the main character for the most part. The book is told in first person narrative from Holly's point of view so she is the character we see the most from and all the thoughts of. Her narrative to the audience at times got a bit annoying with over-use of exclamation marks but for the most part it was quite jolly and enjoyable.

The Martland family are the other main ones in the book. Firstly we meet the elderly relatives Noel and Tilly who live in a small house on the grounds of the big house where Holly is staying. She meets them fairly early on and Noel in particular is a lovely character who adores Christmas, so we can live it through him a bit! They are looking after their grand-daughter Jess, who I wasn't too sure about at first but added some great humour and fun into the book as it goes on. The other ones we meet are Becca, another relative and of course Jude Martland who owns the house. He was quite rude and abrupt for the first half of the book until he appears properly, and even then it took me a while to warm to him. I guess some people like the brooding angry types but not me I'm afraid, although I did by the end!

The festive feeling of this book really does come across as you read through, and I liked how even Holly begins to embrace the season as those around her try to enjoy Christmas despite  being snowed in a house with a group of strangers. I also really enjoyed Holy reading her grandmother's diaries throughout the book - each of the chapters is began with an extract from her diaries and it certainly gives a new twist to the book as it goes along. I could see the ending coming as the book goes on, there's no point in pretending it's isn't guessable but I really liked the story it took to get there and found it a wonderfully festive read.

Overall I think this is a lovely book to read at Christmas, and I think it will be one I'll be pulling off my shelf every year for a nice Christmas story. There is a great cast of characters who are more than enough to hold the story together, and I really liked all of them, especially Holly who was the perfect leading lady. Holly was a joy to read about throughout the book, and it made me feel really Christmassy. Being set in a big old house somehow made it all the more magical, and I did feel slightly sad when it came to an end. I also noticed Ashley managed to get in a few references to Chocolate Wishes, something that appeared in her previous book! Definitely a must-read for the Christmas season, I loved it!

Rating: 4/5


  1. I've just recently bought this and can't wait to read it!

  2. I have just read this book and can say if you like Christmas,a good sprinkle of romance, then this book is for you...enjoy!

  3. I read this book last Christmas and I loved it..Really enjoyable and could not put it down. Just looking for my Christmas read for this year hope I find one just as good!!