Author: Sophie Claire
Goodreads rating: 4.23
Can a trip away lead you home?
After a bad break-up, eternal optimist Evie Miller has moved to the small village of Willowbrook to finally pursue her dream of opening a craft sho. Unfortunately, with money worries and an ex-boyfriend determined to track her down, her fresh start isn’t going entirely to plan.
Jake Hartford is also looking to escape his past. Haunted by the loss of his wife, he’s determined not to get close to anyone again – and the last thing he wants is to be celebrating this December.
Hoping to avoid the festivities, Evie and Jake arrange to escape Christmas together as friends in Provence. But can they avoid the magic of the season from changing things between them?
And what happens if one of them starts to feel something more?
A charming Christmas story from an exciting new voice in cosy women’s fiction!
Overall opinion of the book:
I’ve got to be honest, when I first started reading the book I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The enemies to lovers trope is my biggest bug bearer and The Christmas Holiday had mild elements of it at the beginning. As the book progressed and the plot deepened, the first few chapters are put into perspective and it’s clear to see why Claire decided to use this particular trope. This was an absolutely fantastic and brilliantly written love story, it had so many layers and dealt with some important and difficult topics too.
The Christmas Holiday had everything I enjoy in a book. The plot unravelled at a steady pace, the characters love for each other was a slow burner and it reflects the reality of life. There’s no over dramatic, unrealistic scenes, all of it is grounded in real life situations, which can quite often be raw and emotional. As I’ve said above, this book isn’t your ordinary Chick-Lit, it deals with some traumatic and difficult issues, such as the loss of a spouse and family members. Though this is a sensitive topic, Claire has approached it with the utmost respect and sensitivity. It really hits home that life is short and no one knows what could happen next. Claire shows the raw emotion and lasting affects losing a loved one can have. Her characters go on a tough journey of accepting this grief and allowing themselves to move on while still remembering the people they’ve lost. This was written well and Claire explores how the stages of grief affect people differently and take time to overcome.
Claire discusses toxic relationships and how they can have a lasting affect on an individual’s thought process, long after the relationship has ended. Evie’s ex-partner was emotionally abusive and this leads her to have a lack of self confidence in herself and abilities. Her parents are unaware of how controlling they are, and how this has been detrimental to Evie. This again was dealt in a sensitive, yet realistic way. I think it will resonate with many readers who have gone through something similar and although it’s tough at times to read, it’s important these issues are being brought up to emphasise what is, and what isn’t, a healthy relationship. It’s great Evie’s thought process surrounding her appearance, eating habits, business and personality is regularly challenged by Jake and her friends. It emphasises the importance of surrounding yourself with non toxic people, and accepting what has been said about you in the past isn’t true.
Though the plot was a little staccato and slow to begin with, it didn’t take me long to be won over by Evie’s bright and optimistic personality. You can’t help but to love her positivity and clumsiness. She’s a brilliant protagonist and compliments Jake’s more introverted, wary personality brilliantly. They’re polar opposites, yet are so similar at times. I loved seeing their relationship progress from one that’s quite sour and frosty. There’s so many layers to each of them, and as the novel continues and we find out more of their backstory, it’s clear to see why they both act in certain ways.
When I began reading The Christmas Holiday, I didn’t realise it was a multiple narrative, it switches between Evie and Jake throughout. I would have liked for each character’s section to be differentiated by their names to make it clear to readers when the perspective is going to change, but that’s just a personal preference. The multiple narrative works perfectly in this book as it allows readers more of an insight into both character’s thoughts and feelings. I enjoyed both Evie and Jake’s sections equally. As Jake is a somewhat closed book, his sections were particularly interesting to read.
The Christmas Holiday was such a great read and definitely one of my favourite Chick-Lit books of the year. Although it’s set in December and does talk about Christmas, you could read it any time of the year – it does make for the perfect and cosy Autumn/Winter read however. It’s ironic that it’s a Christmas book about avoiding celebrating Christmas! I loved everything about both Willowbrook and Provence. Willowbrook seems like a perfect, quaint English Village and Provence sounds gorgeous. As someone who visited France every year as a child, I definitely have a soft spot for the country and language. Both settings were described well, and I loved the community feeling of Willowbrook.
The plot was complex, yet so endearing, and I loved the romance between Jake and Evie. The Christmas Holiday had a bit of everything in it and I now want a Dalmatian like Smoke, what a gorgeous, loyal dog! I would have liked to have been introduced to Heidi as she’s a character mentioned throughout the book, but readers never actually get to meet her. She seems to play such a big role in Jake’s life and it seemed like a shame that she wasn’t introduced fully. The writing was perhaps a little cliche in parts but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The spelling, punctuation and grammar was perfect and I loved Claire’s writing style. It was easy to follow and flowed well. I could have easily devoured another 200 pages of The Christmas Holiday as I’d love to find out what happens after the end of the book!
The Christmas Holiday took me completely by surprise. I thought I would enjoy it bu actually ended up loving it. It has so many layers and isn’t your ordinary love story. It complex, emotional, yet beautiful too. I’d definitely recommend reading this book if you’re a romance and women’s fiction fan. It’s the perfect read for this time of year, the writing is fantastic, it’s full of humour and I’m sure you will fall in love with Evie, Jake and Smoke just as much as I did.
I hope Claire decides to write a second novel or a novella about these characters in the future because I honestly can’t get enough of them. I’m blown away by the fact that this is Sophie Claire’s debut novel, it absolutely fantastic and certainly rivals the likes of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes! Claire’s definitely an author to look out for and I genuinely can’t wait to read more of her books in the future.
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