It’s a delight today to be joining the blog blitz and sharing my review of You Never See Rainbows At Christmas by Elaine Spires: it was published for kindle on 1st December (free via Kindle Unlimited), also available in paperback, via Amazon in the UK and US. “No, Rachel” I said, “I can’t fit in another book” – until I found it was only a tad over 100 pages long, and you always have room for a short one, don’t you? (And I do so enjoy Elaine’s writing!) So thanks to Rachel (at Rachel’s Random Resources) for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading copy.
Let’s take a closer look…
Like a rhinestone Miss Havisham, Eloise plans to spend Christmas alone, lying on the settee, crying her eyes out while listening to Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits. But a fall in the sleet two nights before Christmas lands her at the feet of rough sleeper Adam who is fighting his own demons. Limping, cut and bruised she has no alternative but to accept his offer of help. And instead of rejection, there’s friendship and company. Christmas suddenly seems brighter. Eloise’s never seen a rainbow at Christmas, though. This year might be different.
What a thoroughly gorgeous read. Dedicated to “All Those Who Live Alone”, it opens with a really intriguing and well-written prologue – but we then meet Eloise, facing a lonely Christmas to the accompaniment of her favourite soundtrack by Dolly Parton. She works in a library, does proofreading from home, and lives a fairly solitary existence: she has family, an adult son who lives with her mother in Spain, but she’s had such a dreadful year that she’s cancelled their planned visit and plans to spend Christmas alone.
Her fridge is full – she’s neglected to cancel her Christmas food delivery for the planned family visit – but when she finds she’s forgotten to order milk she visits the corner shop, bypassing the homeless man on the pavement outside as she always does. On her way home, she has a fall – and when the homeless man, Adam, helps take her home on a shopping trolley, she invites him in, and shows him kindness – and so begins an extraordinary friendship between two lonely people who need each other.
I really don’t want to spoil this one for anyone, but I will say that these were two people who entirely won my heart. As they open up to each other, we find out more about them both – the way Eloise’s situation is largely the result of her trusting nature and enormous heart, the reasons why Adam finds himself on the streets. Their relationship is quite beautifully drawn, fills your heart with warmth and joy – and it made me feel quite tearful at times as they steadily opened up to each other and grew ever closer.
There are quite a few surprises, twists and turns to the story, that are really cleverly handled. And although the story is largely a two-hander, there are a few other characters who feature in the story and take it in a direction I really never expected – and I loved every moment. It’s all gloriously Christmassy, but never cloying – I particularly loved the church visit on Christmas morning, the interactions with the congregation, and especially one particularly satisfying encounter that really made me smile.
And the story’s conclusion – it’s just gloriously uplifting, emotionally satisfying in every possible way. The whole book really is quite beautifully written – I loved the way the relationship between Eloise and Adam developed with real emotional authenticity, all their exchanges and interactions as the trust between them grows.
This is a year when we could probably all rather do with a Christmas rainbow – and I certainly found one in this lovely book with Eloise and Adam, along with an unexpected pot of gold. Quite wonderful, and I loved every moment – if you can find room for this one on your Christmas reading list, I recommend it really highly.
About the author
Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine spends her time between her homes in Essex and Five Islands, Antigua (W.I.).