8 December 2012

Book Review: With Love At Christmas by Carole Matthews

"Can the imperfect family really have the perfect Christmas?

Juliet Joyce adores Christmas. She loves the presents, the tree, the turkey, the tinsel, everything. Already the festive spirit is upon her, which is just as well as this Christmas things are starting to get out of hand.

Her son Tom is out of work and bringing home a slew of unsuitable partners; pregnant daughter Chloe and her little boy have moved back in; Juliet's father, Frank, is getting over a heartbreak of his own and Rita, her eccentric mother, is behaving more erratically each day. And has the chaos got too much for Juliet's husband Rick?

With the big day fast approaching, Juliet hopes that she can stop everything spiralling out of control, because the only thing she wants is her family all around her and her home to be filled WITH LOVE AT CHRISTMAS."

Rating: 5/5

I have really been looking forward to reading Carole Matthews' latest festive offering for a while now, especially because I have seen quite a bit of praise about it online, and I was curious to see if it would live up to my expectations too. I found her last Christmas book 'Wrapped Up In You' to be a bit of a disappointing read for me, not quite as festive as I had hoped, so I was very hopeful this one would be more my cup of tea. Thank goodness I took a chance on it, because its now one of my favourite Christmas reads this year, and I think it's one that will be making its way onto my 'keepers' shelf because it was such a brilliant read and I can't recommend it highly enough... and here's why.

Juliet Joyce is a lady who loves Christmas, despite her own family not being quite as keen on the festivities as she is. There's her dad who is going through a terrible heart-break thanks to his partner Samuel, her son Tom who is out of work and seemingly not looking for a job, but who is more than happy to look for a girlfriend or three; daughter Chloe who is a mum of one and expecting another baby and are now back at home with Juliet again, and of course her husband Rick, who is feeling the pressure financially for the family. Will Juliet be able to pull off the magical Christmas she so wants to provide for her family, or will the problems amongst the Joyce's prove too much for Juliet once and for all?

There was something really festive about this book, right from the beginning and I really loved that. Juliet is a huge fan of Christmas, and Matthews uses this to really go to town on the descriptions of everything from the plentiful amounts of food that Juliet buys, to the decorations and lights that adorn the house, and it really cheered me up to read it! Matthews really brings alive the Christmas spirit in this novel, but also goes to highlight the not-so-good things about this time of year too, such as those who are alone or living in worse circumstances than ourselves who we would perhaps otherwise overlook, and the financial burden it can place on people too. I felt the balance was right in this novel, and the story worked well to cover all aspects of Christmas, but managing to keep on the happy side throughout.

The Joyce family were fun to read about, and there was certainly a lot going on this book to keep me hooked! I have to confess to really hating Juliet's children Chloe and Tom, what a horrible couple of children with seemingly no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and I'd never dream of speaking to my parents like they do, or treating their house in the same way either! However, the storyline with Juliet's parents was very touching, and I felt Juliet's fathers story was very sad, and I did cry a few times when I was reading this. Matthews managed to really convey the emotion of the situations so well, it seemed very realistic as I was reading and I couldn't help but feel involved in the tale. Juliet herself was the main character of the story, and I really did love her, I think any busy, working mum at Christmas can relate to her!

I found it a very fun novel to read, and it spread the Christmas cheer for me every time I picked it up for read a few more pages. It manages to put across the emotion of the season, and mixes that with a lot of humour that had me chortling along as I was reading, Matthews has a great way with the comic lines from Juliet! I was consumed by this story, once I was involved I felt I had to know how things were going to end up for the Joyces, and if they would have a great Christmas after everything they'd been through. It is a story that a lot of people will enjoy reading, and probably relate to as well, especially Juliet's Christmas obsession in a lot of cases too I expect! It is a fab festive read that manages to be funny yet sensitive and emotional at the same time, and it's a book I shan't forget for a long time. As I previously said, it's one of my favourite festive reads this year, and it'll give you a warm feeling inside as you're reading. A brilliant book!

You can buy With Love At Christmas as a paperback or an eBook now!

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