Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Books Read: Julia Williams - A Merry Little Christmas

With four children, a Christmas cookbook to write, and her mum suffering from dementia, Cat Tinsall has plenty to juggle. When her eldest daughter, Mel, starts going off the rails, Cat has even more on her plate.

Pippa Holliday adores her family, although often finds her hands full. When Dan is involved in a terrible accident, Pippa’s world is suddenly turned upside down.

Balancing her job as a school teacher with twins and her step-son Steven isn’t easy for Marianne North. With her husband’s ex causing trouble, life is getting even trickier.

As Cat, Pippa and Marianne help each other through a difficult year, they’re all hoping for a much brighter Christmas.

Although A Merry Little Christmas is technically a sequel to one of Julia Williams' previous books, Last Christmas, it can be read entirely on its own merit as there are a few recaps throughout to events from the previous book.

The story picks up on the lives of the main characters, Cat, Pippa and Marianne several years on from when we last met them and its fair to say that each of them certainly have their hands full taking care of their families and going about their everyday lives.

Cat's career as a TV cook has rocketed but as well as having to cope with the demands this places on her, she's also having to cope with the acceptance that her mother has Dementia as well as the hectic schedule of her family.  Teenager Mel in particular is being extremely moody and uncommunicative and Cat doesn't know how to get through to her to find out what's going on.

Pippa, normally the unflappable support for everyone else, soon finds that she needs to lean on her friends for support herself when husband Dan has a terrible accident.  How will she cope looking after her three children, including disabled daughter Lucy, as well as helping Dan to recover from his injuries? 

Marianne's life has certainly changed the most since we last met her.  She's now married to Gabe, step-mum to Steven and she's now also mum to young twins but she's finding it hard trying to juggling looking after the family and working in the local school especially when they want her to try and take on more work than she can cope with. 

But fortunately for Cat, Pippa and Marianne they have each other, and throughout the book there are many occasions where they would more than likely have cracked under the pressure if their friends had not been there for them with a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.  Julia Williams certainly didn't shy away from tackling some heavy issues in this book, respite care, brain injury and dementia to name just a few, but they each handled well and with the sensitivity they deserved.

The one thing I did find a little misleading though was the title as I had assumed that this story would set entirely around Christmastime but it's not, it's actually a story told throughout the year finishing at Christmas.  But this was such a minor point in what was an enjoyable story about friendships and the support that they all give each other. 

Thank you Avon Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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