Fenella and Rupert are organising the perfect Christmas, surrounded by their friends in their beautiful Somerby house.
Until Fenella gets a phone call from her ghastly parents-in-law asking if they can join them for the holiday. Fenella couldn't possibly refuse and besides, it could be worse.
But when they arrive and the house is suddenly plunged in darkness thanks to a power cut, Fenella knows she has her work cut out to keep everyone happy and pull off the perfect Christmas feast.
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Katie Fforde has long been a firm favourite author of mine. Alongside Jill Mansell she was the first author I moved on to reading once I had devoured all Maeve Binchy's books that were in my local library. I suppose Katie was amongst my first proper grown up reads once I had reached that stage in my love of reading. Katie's books are always light, easy, enjoyable reads that often centre around a certain career or profession and this sets her books apart from all the rest. The last few years as well as a full length novel she has also published a Christmas novella and it's something I've come to look forward to as being a slight guilty pleasure to enjoy an added story from Katie whilst waiting for her next full length book. Short stories are perfect for the busy Christmas season as they are quick to read yet hold your attention just long enough. They provide a few restful minutes escape from all the hustle and bustle and frantic preparation that inevitably come with this time of year. This is certainly highlighted in this story as the characters find Christmas on top of them with still lots to do and plenty of people to please.
Candlelight at Christmas is this year's festive treat from Katie and it mentions in the blurb that we will see the return of some familiar characters. I’ll admit when I quickly glanced through the blurb I couldn't exactly remember who said characters were and that's purely because when you read so many books each year that characters can often be forgotten and it is nothing to do with the how I felt about the book they featured in previously. I did a search and discovered we had met Rupert and Fenella in Recipe for Love published back in 2012. Within a few pages of this new story it all came flooding back to me and I was pleased to reacquaint myself with the Gainsborough's and their extended family and friends and to check in with how they would be spending Christmas.
The story opens at Somerby house the day before Christmas when Rupert has just announced to his wife that his parents will be spending Christmas with the family as their plans had fallen through last minute. Needless to say Fenella is not best pleased as she had hoped for a quiet Christmas with Rupert and her girls, Glory and Simmy, and her friends Hugo and Sarah, Zoe and Gideon. These characters had featured in Recipe for Love but for those who haven't read that book you'll get a brief back story and we see how they are in the present. Many people can relate to Fenella's predicament when your in laws aren't the nicest people and you had Christmas all planned out and now you find you have to be hostess and entertainer extraordinaire to a couple who are eternally ungrateful. Yet Fenella's caring nature and her love for Rupert shine through and she is determined Christmas will go just as she had planned even with the added extra input from her in laws.
Even though this story was very short and quite often it can be difficult to get to know characters in such a short space of time or for a warm atmosphere to be built up, Katie is an expert at the short story and I feel she achieved a lot within the few pages. This is tricky to do but the Christmas atmosphere and the whole themes of Christmas as a time for giving and embracing time with family shone through the pages and really did give you that warm, festive feeling inside that a reader always hopes to gain from a Christmas book.
I could easily visualise Somerby house and all the guests busy settling in and preparing for the big day. Although Rupert's parents proved to be just as obnoxious and ungrateful as I presumed that they would be and I suppose not everything can be plain sailing. Two new characters Meggie and Etienne were introduced and proved to be lovely additions to the story. What I wouldn't give to find Etienne waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning. As for Meggie in a way she had a slightly sad angle to her part in the story but if it wasn't for Rupert and Fenella she wouldn’t have had her chance to shine. There were a few twists and turns and surprises before we reached the end and they all fitted in well with the overall story making Candlelight at Christmas a simply gorgeous read and reassuring me any writing from Katie Fforde is not to be missed.
At the time of writing it's only just over a £1 and definitely worth the money. If you like this story I would highly recommend A Christmas Feast and other stories published last year. It's a collection of Katie's short stories and it proved to be an utter delight when I read it on my Christmas holidays last year. Each story is so different yet does what a short story should do which is to always leave you wanting more. One story I would definitely advise you to read is From Scotland with Love. It's simply brilliant . Meanwhile I'll be waiting patiently for February to roll around so I can get my hands on Katie's next book A Secret Garden.
Many thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone for my copy of Candlelight at Christmas to review via NetGalley.