Apologies for absence – I’ve been desperately trying to get a little more Christmas-ready! Still time for a couple more Christmas book reviews though, and I’m delighted today to share my review of The Cornish Village School – Christmas Wishes by Kitty Wilson: this is the fourth book in the Cornish Village School series, and I really must have been looking the other way when the other three were published by Canelo. This one came out on 9th September, and is available via Amazon both for kindle and as an audiobook (you can find the whole series here): if you prefer to read on other platforms, it’s also available for Kobo, through iBooks or from Google Play.
I think it’s the first time an author has asked me to look at a book with the words “I was having coffee with Jessie Cahalin, and she suggested…” – but as Jessie knows both me and my reading tastes so very well, I happily took a closer look. And as soon as I read the blurb, I knew this was a book I really needed to read before the Christmas books season was over… my thanks to Kitty for my reading e-copy.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Penmenna…
Teaching assistant Alice has sworn off men, which is fine because with Christmas coming she’s super busy organising the school Nativity. This should be a blast with the help of close friend and village vicar, Dan – if she can ignore those more-than-just-a-friend feelings she’s developed for him…
Dan is happy to help Alice – his secret crush – but not only is his beloved Granny Annie about to be made homeless, the church choir has disintegrated and he’s battling some dark demons from his past.
With meddling grannies and PTA wars thrown in the mix, can Alice and Dan overcome their past hurts to move forward? Will they be spending Christmas together as friends… or something more?
A festive feel-good romance perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant and Holly Martin.
This was a book I knew I was going to enjoy from its first few pages – the writing style is simply lovely, light and engaging, a well-drawn setting, the dialogue perfectly captured, the humour elements absolutely spot-on (and sometimes a delightful surprise), the characters just perfect in every way. I loved Alice straight away, and really enjoyed the twists and turns of her friendship (and might there be more?) with village vicar Dan: both characters have more depth than I ever expected, there’s a wonderful edge of attraction (even a touch of lust!), and I so hoped for a happy ending for them both.
We’re back in the world of the nativity play for this one – last year’s was a bit of an avant-garde disaster with dippy Harmony at the helm, and Alice and Dan take it down a more traditional route, while handing over the production reins to the children. Every child is so perfectly drawn, their interactions extremely funny – and I had a particularly soft spot for the main producer with his obvious aspirations to be the next James Cameron.
The school setting also introduces the shenanigans of the PTA, and the challenge to the authority of Queen Bee Marion Marksharp, the tornado with teeth – what wonderful characters, their interactions a peace-keeping challenge for Alice, and I loved every single moment. Putting together a choir for the Christingle service opens up a whole range of opportunities for misunderstandings too – and the conclusion to that thread really touched my heart.
And then there are the octogenarians – the unexpected secrets of Ethel’s basement, the introduction of Dan’s quite magnificent Granny Annie, and the way they work together to try to bring Dan and Alice rather closer. And I really must mention Dan’s psycho killer cat Dave, a great character in his own right – and Alice’s quest to find him a more suitable name was a recurring note I really enjoyed.
While the story’s quite complete in itself – immensely satisfying, gloriously Christmassy, and an absolute joy to read – the only part of the story that lost me a little was the closing scenes, that pick up on some of the characters from the earlier books, and bring their stories to conclusion. But it only made me rather sorry that I hadn’t read the whole series, so I’d have understood what led up to that point. While I’d love to say I’ll go back and read the whole series, I sadly just can’t – but I’ll certainly be very much looking forward to whatever the author does next. A really lovely read, and I enjoyed it very much indeed.
About the author
Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind