29 October 2013

Book Review: Christmas Carol by Michele Gorman

"One winter wedding, two happy couples, three ex-boyfriends... And a very uncomfortable weekend. Carol hates Christmas. Being recently dumped, she’s not crazy about weddings either. So her sister Marley’s nuptials, over the Christmas weekend, are making her positively Scrooge-like. When she arrives for the weekend at the stately home in rural Scotland to find her three ex-boyfriends in attendance, Carol has no choice but to face her ghosts to discover what really happened in those relationships, learning a lot about herself in the process. As the snow falls outside and the fire crackles in the hearth, might one of the wedding guests become the harbinger of Christmases to come?"

Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy Christmas Carol as a paperback or an eBook now!

Michele Gorman's latest book, published by fab new publishers Notting Hill Press, is a short festive novella. Entitled, Christmas Carol, it's a modern retake on Charles Dickens' classic tale 'A Christmas Carol', a story that I love to read every year, and watch the film as well. Michele was kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing, and while this has not influenced my review in any way, I am thrilled to say I loved the book and thought it was a perfect Christmassy short story to enjoy in the run up to Christmas which will be here before we know it!

Carol really doesn't like Christmas. She finds it stressful enough, so when her sister reveals that she's getting married at Christmas, she isn't exactly over the moon. She has to make her way to snowy Scotland to an isolated stately home for the nuptials, but there is something that her sister hasn't divulged to her - her three ex-boyfriends, one of whom very recently dumped her, are in attendance at the wedding. Carol tries in vain to get them uninvited but her sister isn't having any of it. Carol realises she's going to have to grit her teeth and bear it, and find out perhaps why these relationships didn't quite work out. As the wedding fast approaches, Carol tries to lose herself in the festivities, and make the most of the time she has there with her nearest and not-quite-so dearest...

I'll be honest and say that at first I didn't twig that this was a modern retelling of the classic story, even though the title should have left me thinking about this really! It wasn't until I was reading about her three ex-boyfriends that I realised these were the three ghosts of Christmas past from the other story, and once I was into it, I found that it worked really well! We had a female Scrooge in this book - Carol really doesn't like Christmas, she's a workaholic, addicted to her phone and is generally a bit of a sourpuss about all things fun. Despite all this though, I really liked her and felt that Gorman made her sympathetic enough that we cared about what had happened to her romantically, and how she felt quite awkward with all her exes around her.

The way these three men were written into the story was good too. Gorman makes use of Carol telling us their past relationships through flashbacks and I enjoyed reading about them, and why they all ended, although Carol  freely admits she doesn't understand why men keep leaving her! They are all very different men, and you can see Carol genuinely had feelings for all of them, but is just a bit unlucky in love. I was hoping for Carol to find a happy ending in the book, but Gorman certainly makes you work for it, not leaving it obvious at all. Although the story is short, I felt Gorman covered everything well enough and didn't leave anything unexplained, but I could have quite happily read this as a full length novel, I enjoyed it so much.

I really loved the festive touches in the book, the mentions of the snow, the wedding festivities, all sounded perfect, and the setting of a remote stately home in cold Scotland was just the icing on the cake really. There's quite a bit of humour in there from Carol, she's funny and Gorman writes her quite dry-wit well, I especially loved her despairing over the lack of signal she got for her Blackberry whilst at the wedding! Carol doesn't particularly some of her other family members, and this leads to some quite funny moments too, although a tad cringing at times! Altogether though, it's a really enjoyable novella, and is a great retelling of a classic story. There's characters that you'll love and hate in there, a wonderful setting, and a whole lot of good feeling too. Sure, Carol isn't perfect, but that's what I loved about her, and hoped someone else would too! Christmas Carol is a great short story to curl up with and enjoy for this coming festive season.

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