So, just one last Christmas review for this year – I always thought my list of planned reading (you’ll find it again here) might have been a tad ambitious, so my apologies to those authors whose books I just wasn’t able to get to this year. But I really must share my review of Every Day in December by Kitty Wilson: her first book with One More Chapter, this one was published on 20th August, and is now available as an ebook (and, I notice, just 99p for kindle!), in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks to the publishers for my reading e-copy, provided via netgalley.
It was a real joy to discover Kitty’s lovely writing with The Cornish Village School – Christmas Wishes – I’m still sorry I didn’t manage to pick up the other books in the series, and I was surprised to see that I read and enjoyed it two years ago (I thought it was last year!). It really was as Christmassy as I could have possibly wanted it to be, with wonderful characters and that focus on community that I always love – you’ll find my full review here. I was delighted when I heard that Kitty had signed with One More Chapter, thoroughly deserved – and this latest book was on my radar from the moment I first heard about it.
Two people. One month to fall in love.
‘The perfect Christmas story, full of heart and hope’ Sandy Barker
Belle Wilde loves December. Yes, she’s just lost her job and Christmas is not a good time to find yourself ‘financially challenged’. And yes, her parents are still going on about the fact that she really should have it all together by now. But Belle believes that in December, magic can happen.
Rory Walters hates December. Whilst it looks like his life is together, he’s still reeling from a winter’s night five years ago when his life changed forever. Now back at home, he’s certain that this will be yet another Christmas to endure rather than enjoy.
But as midnight on December 31st draws closer, Belle and Rory’s time together is coming to an end. With a little help from a Christmas miracle could Belle find the one thing she really wants underneath the mistletoe?
This book has a superb prologue – set at Christmas, with Belle dashing her friend Luisa to the maternity unit in the nick of time, where her heart breaks at the sight of a man she once knew in a state of acute distress. And then the story moves on – five years on, and it’s the beginning of December.
Belle is beginning to feel the excitement of Christmas – even if it means spending time with her obnoxious father, for whom nothing she does is ever quite good enough. But during one of her painful visits, her path crosses that of Rory – he was the man at the hospital, a friend from the past, and he has his own reasons for looking forward rather less to the approach of the festive season. And as well as the deeper reasons for his sadness, he’s back in Bristol/Bath because of his mum’s cancer diagnosis – and his work-life isn’t going too wonderfully either, reputation management for Belle’s irredeemable father. And Belle’s own life isn’t going particularly well – she’s on her uppers, barely affording to keep her head above water – and there really doesn’t seem any real way of turning her love of Shakespeare (and her passion project of analysing everything he ever wrote) into a means to pay the bills. But, in Rory, she sees a friend who’s struggling – she can’t remove his pain, but sets out to show him the true magic of Christmas.
I’m going to admit that it took me a few chapters to fully love this book – I’d been expecting something more akin to the gentleness of the Cornish Village School, and instead I found a spiky and not entirely sympathetic heroine, a lifestyle that was rather outside my experience, and an edgy storyline set to a backing track of noisy sex (Belle’s flatmate). But I entirely loved the way the story developed, and the way the author chose to tell it – unfolding over the 31 days of December, the loosely alternating perspectives of Belle and Rory and the insights into their characters and histories, the supportive friendship that developed between them along with the slow growth of a romantic attachment that made my heart swell with joy (and, quite a few times, filled my eyes with tears).
The two main characters are quite wonderful, and the whole book has the perfect emotional touch – the way their mutual support (and it’s far more than that!) helps takes away so much of the sadness and fear they both feel, the way they grow stronger, the obstacles they overcome together, their separate small triumphs that build into something greater and more precious. And if I loved Belle and Rory, the supporting cast was equally tremendous – Rory’s mother Alison and her indefatigable sense of fun, Belle’s friend Luisa and her exhausting (and very real) five-year-old Marsha, even Belle’s complicated family.
The whole book is quite gloriously Christmassy, with all the wonderful experiences Belle finds to help Rory love the festive season – but don’t let that put you off for an instant if you’re thinking of picking it up in January. And while it’s all a bit of an emotional roller-coaster at times, there’s plenty of well-judged humour too – with a few set pieces that had me in tears of laughter rather than reaching for the tissues (oh, Alison!) – all beautifully done and quite perfectly balanced. This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed – and recommend really highly.
About the author
Kitty Wilson lives in Bristol and loves the city. She happily spends most of the time welded to her keyboard dreaming up deeply romantic stories that make her giggle as she types. She has a penchant for very loud music, owns more books than one human could possibly read and has an unhealthy obsession with paint charts.