Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Magic of Christmas Review

The Magic of Christmas
Trisha Ashley

Publisher: Avon Books

In the pretty Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzy is on the verge of leaving her cheating husband, Tom, when tragedy strikes. Luckily she has welcome distraction in the Christmas Pudding Circle, a group of friends swapping seasonal recipes – as well as a rivalry with local cookery writer Nick over who will win Best Mince Pie at the village show…
Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the annual Boxing Day Mystery Play. But who will play Adam to Lizzy’s Eve? Could it be the handsome and charismatic soap actor Ritch, or could someone closer to home win her heart? Whatever happens, it promises to be a Christmas to remember!

The book follows August to December in the village of Middlemoss where Lizzy is trapped in a loveless marriage with an emotionally abusive man, merely waiting for her son to go to university until she can escape. But when a tragedy occurs, she is given a second chance – the question is will she take it?

The village where Lizzy leaves is a typical chick-lit/Richard Curtis – an old fashioned village, still holding onto traditions in modern times and populated with eccentric characters that are basically kind-hearted but a little out-there. In fact if the cover and the brief description hasn’t warned you already, this could be an incredibly cloying and perfect. Lizzy is one of these perfect women – self-sufficient through growing fruit and vegetables and raising hens and quails. She bakes more or less continuously and is actively involved in the local community – helping with the Boxing Day Mystery play and preparing the hampers for the WI’s Christmas parcels. And off course her teen-aged beau is still sending her postcards with recipes on despite the fact they are both married to other people.

Lizzy is not very pro-active – the book follows her life for five months but she spends most of her time baking or dog-walking and never really makes any decisions to change or be pro-active. As such I found her rather lacking as heroine and wasn’t that fussed if she got her happy ending or not. I find the joy of chick-lit books is the journey on the way and apart from some wonderful descriptions of food (honestly I was starving after every chapter!), I didn't have much need to find out what happens next. The one major twist was signposted very early and so not a surprise to me. That said it was well written and would pass a few enjoyable hours if you miss the ‘traditional’ idea of an English country village!

Recommended for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Carole Matthews. 6 out of 10

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