My last Christmas read, and my last review this year – and it’s a real pleasure to share my review of A Granite Springs Christmas by Maggie Christensen. This lovely novella is the sixth book in the Granite Springs series set in the small Australian country town: published on 28th October, it’s now available for kindle (also available free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US. And as always, my thanks to the author for providing my e-copy for review.
It’s very rarely that I read a whole series, but I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this one – two more planned I see, and the next book, The Life She Creates, is out on 19th January and already available to preorder (and, with thanks to Maggie, on my kindle!). If you pop Maggie’s name into my search bar, you’ll find my enthusiastic reviews of the five previous books (and a few others I’d also recommend) – I really think this series would have appeal for any reader, but should you be of a similar age to me and find it equally difficult to find mature age fiction, you’ll find these such well-told stories particularly satisfying. Let’s take a closer look at this one…
A return to Granite Springs. A family Christmas. A time for love and joy… or is it?
A year after a devastating bushfire destroyed Magda Duncan’s home, she returns to Granite Springs determined to resume her life and organise a wonderful family Christmas. But the elation of her homecoming quickly turns to disappointment as she discovers not everyone is in tune with her plans.
George Turnbull was Magda’s late husband’s best friend. A bachelor, he has always carried a torch for Magda and remained close to her and her sons. When he finally musters the courage to reveal his true feelings, a life changing surprise from his past threatens to ruin any chance at happiness.
Emotions are high as Christmas Day approaches. Will this be the most wonderful Christmas ever? Or will the hopes and fears of the past come home to haunt them?
A poignant story of a Christmas friends of Granite Springs will never forget.
If you enjoy heartwarming second chance romance in a rural setting with a Christmas flavour, you’ll love this book.
Yes, another Christmas book – but a very different setting, and not a flake of snow in sight. There’s something rather lovely about experiencing Christmas in another country – but although the traditions might differ a little and the sun might be shining rather more, the family issues that often mark the season are the same the world over.
If you’ve read the other books in the series, you’ll already know Magda a little – we’ve come across her walking her dogs, Jo and Fran have visited her for healing massages, and we know about her gift of second sight. But we also know her home was destroyed in the bush fire – and she’s back, having spent time with both her sons and their families, in a new home constructed on the ashes of the old one, reunited with the dogs and retired race horses that she loves. Now in her 70s, she’s resisted her sons’ suggestions that she should be living in an assisted living facility – she loves her life, surrounded by good friends, caring for her home and her animals – but she’s now looking forward to welcoming them for a Christmas visit.
We’ve met George before too – he handed over the baton for leading the choir to Owen, but he’s enjoying being involved in the plans for a Christmas recital of The Messiah. Other than that though, he’s struggled a little to fill his solitary days after retirement – but many of his moments of joy come from his close friendship with Magda. Others wonder whether there’s more between them than friendship – but there really isn’t at the start, other than the pleasure of company and the support they give each other.
I won’t expand on the “life changing surprise” that rather shakes George’s life – but the repercussions on their friendship, now beginning to develop into something more, surprise them both. I very much liked the way the feelings involved were handled – the touch of jealousy, the resistance to change, all very real and easy to empathise with. I also very much liked the way they turned to friends to discuss their concerns – while Magda turns to Jo, George shares his worries with Col – and although every book in this series is entirely readable as a standalone, I liked that continuity provided by characters whose own journey to happiness I was already familiar with.
I must say too that this book really isn’t over-Christmassy, and could happily be read at any time of year – there’s more of a focus on the central relationship, the friendships, the family complications, the challenge of change later in life, the considerations that come into play… and there’s more than a touch more excellent drama before the book’s end too.
I’ve always enjoyed the author’s more mature characters, and the realistic way she depicts their lives and the realities of second chance romance – Magda and George are older than most, and it was really good to see a book anchored by two such strong and interesting characters of an age group that’s so often overlooked in fiction.
I really enjoyed this one…. and I’m already looking forward very much to the next.
About the author
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.
From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!
She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound. A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.