Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Every Time a Bell Ring tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas, on The Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin.
An angel gets its wings…
Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.
As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.
Hence, Christmas is cancelled.
So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.
But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…
Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?
"Sounds like quite a nice tradition to keep." Jim says. "I’m glad I’m here to share it with you this year."
"I’m glad you’re here too. You know, I’ve had years of strolling up and down this cobbled street with boyfriends, girlfriends, school friends and yes, I’ll even admit it - the shame. - on my own a few times." I look at him, feeling a little shy. "But this feels special, more than any other year. That’s because of you, Jim."
He grabs my hand and laughs, "I’m honoured. Come on then, Ms Bailey, show me what this great city of ours has to offer."
My eyes greedily take in the view ahead of us, down Grafton Street. Red, flickering lights coil around luscious green garlands, which drape from one side of the street to other. In the centre of each garland is a large red Victorian lantern and the light casts a warm glow over the busy cobbled street. Each shop window is alight with Christmas lights and resplendent baubles in rich jewel colours.
There’s something about the energy here … well, it is breathtaking.
I’m not the only one who feels that. I can see it on the faces of people as they rush by too, with their pre-Christmas festive highs.
Okay, maybe not so much on that guy's face, I giggle, as a harassed man in his forties rushes by. Last minute shopper, I decide. Poor sap. I’ve mine all done and dusted since October. I wouldn't dream of leaving it to now. But aside from the odd scowling face, the street is awash with a sea of shiny, happy people.
"Look over there." I shout in excitement as I spy a window display with a group of reindeers nibbling on fake grass in the snow. Then another scene catches my eyes and I’m darting over to the other side of the street, pulling Jim behind me.
“Earlier, when you said happiness is …" Jim waves his hand around the Christmas card view in front of us, "is all of this what you meant by happiness?"
"Well, obviously lots of things make me happy. But this, well it’s up there with the best of them. I love everything about Christmas. You must feel it too? Doesn't it feel like we’re in a Christmas movie right now?" I exclaim.
"Oh a blockbuster for sure." He drawls. "Aside from twinkling lights, which I know you’re a sucker for, what else makes you happy?"
I reckon the feel of my hand in his, as we walk through the frenzied crowds is top of my happy list right now. But a girl has to hold some cards to herself, so I remain silent.
"I want to know. Come on Belle. What else makes you happy?" Jim persists.
"Oh a lot of different things. Not having to set the alarm on Saturdays and Sundays. Peanut butter on hot toast. But don't be giving me cold toast. I can't be doing with rubbery cold toast." I say.
"A shootable offence that?" He asks and when I nod, he says, "I'm taking notes here. This is good intel."
"Well, while you're at it, add to the list that not spreading said peanut butter to all corners of the toast is equally damnable. I can't be doing with someone who just smears it on willy nilly, not giving due consideration to all parts of the bread." I tell him.
"Got it. Take care when smearing peanut butter - evenly - on piping hot toast. What else makes your ladyship happy?" He says, tipping his hat in mock salute.
"I love starting a new book and then realising that's it’s one of the good ones. The kind that I am not going to want to finish." I say.
I think some more and add, “Oh and dancing. Any kind, but preferably one that involves a lot of bum shaking is guaranteed to make me smile."
Jim raises his eyebrow so I reward him with a little shake of my bum.
"See. Look how happy my dancing makes you too." I tease, and he bursts into laughter.
"Oh you can be assured that your bum makes me happy," he declares giving it a pat and I thank the stars that I stuck at the squats this summer in the gym.
About the author
Carmel Harrington lives with her husband Roger and children Amelia and Nate in a small coastal village in Wexford. She credits the idyllic setting as a constant source of inspiration to her.
Her first book, ‘Beyond Grace’s Rainbow’ was originally self-published in August 2012. Grace’s story quickly became a bestseller - fast forward 12 months and Carmel joined the prestigious HarperCollins publishing house, represented by Trace Literary Agency. Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was voted Romantic eBook of 2013 and Kindle Book of Year 2013. Her second novel ‘The Life You Left’, was published in June 2013, was also an eBook bestseller and earned Carmel the nickname, ‘Queen of Emotional Writing’.
Carmel writes emotional family dramas and they share one common theme - strong characters who find themselves in extraordinary situations. She loves to dig deep and see how they cope, as they grapple with life-changing moments.
She is a regular on Irish TV as one of the panelists on TV3’s Midday Show, as well as being interviewed on RTE1’s Today Show, TV3’s IrelandAM and TV3’s The Morning Show. She has also been interviewed on US TV - Indiana’s WNDU. A a regular guest on radio stations and a popular freelance writer. Carmel is also a popular motivational keynote speaker, at events in Ireland, UK and US.