Reviewed by Emma Crowley
One lost dog. Two lonely hearts. A Manhattan Christmas full of magic.
Shy homebody Charlotte is planning her usual quiet Christmas celebration: Turkey for two for her and her beloved pet dog Hudson. Only, this year, little Hudson decides to take matters into his own paws and give his favourite human a holiday adventure she’ll never forget.
When Hudson runs away the week before Christmas, Charlotte is devastated. She’d rescued him from the trash years before and gave him a place in her home – and her heart. But with the help of uptight Englishman Henry, Charlotte ends up on a magical treasure hunt around Manhattan to find her furry, four-legged bestie.
Spotted in Central Park as one of Santa's Little Helpers, or last seen in the arms of a supermodel in Times Square, Hudson leads Charlotte and Henry on a very merry dance around the Big Apple, where love, (or should that be Christmas?!) actually is all around.
I had never read anything by Lynn Marie Hulsman previous to this. But the cover, title and tag line for A Miracle at Macy's immediately had me sold. 'One lost dog. Two lonely hearts. A Manhattan Christmas full of magic'. Dogs, New York, snow and magic. What's not to like, this book sounded right up my street. Then when I saw it mentioned this story was like 'Marley and Me' meets 'When Harry Met Sally' my anticipation grew even more. Then you find yourself nodding along in agreement at the very first paragraph because to me it couldn't be more true and I agree with the statement wholeheartedly you just know that the book is going to be special and oh so memorable. And it truly was in fact for me I would go as far as to say it was the best chick-lit book I have read this year and that's saying something considering how many I have read in that genre this year. 'They say dogs are man's best friend and that a woman's not a woman until she's a wife. Wrong! I'm here to tell you that the most natural match in the world is a girl and her dog end of'. Here I couldn't agree more Lynn Marie had me sold hook, line and sinker from this point on, in fact I read as slowly as possible to savour every moment of this quite simply brilliant, engaging story.
Charlotte is 26 and one of the most organised people you could meet. She loves a good solid plan and her daily routine is set in stone and rarely varies. Charlotte is a food tester and blogger and loves nothing better than creating wonderful recipes in her kitchen and sharing her discoveries online. Clearly there is a history with Charlotte, both with her family and romantic life. Raised by her Aunt Miranda she now finds herself more of a loner preferring to stay at home with brief ventures into the world with her dog Hudson – a rescue dog she found and saved from certain death. Charlotte relies heavily on online friendships and her dog. Personally I don't see anything wrong with that as my online friendships have brought such happiness to my life. The problem here is Charlotte has forgotten about reality and is no longer striking the correct balance between the two.
Lynn Marie has written so well of the relationship between a woman and her dog. How a dog can always be there for you in good times and bad and will never shout at you or answer back instead only offering unconditional love. Dogs are certainly a girl's best friend and this is superbly highlighted throughout the book. Hudson stole the show in every scene he is featured in and he was almost human like in his behaviours and antics. When he goes missing after an incident with elves, chaos ensues and Charlotte's heart and life are ripped apart. She cannot go on without Hudson, he has become her best friend, her buddy and constant companion. Life will never be the same if she cannot find him. Surely she can discover where he is before Christmas Day arrives?
There is a lot more to this story than the search for Hudson as the human element and exploring of relationships begins to come into play. Yes tearing around the city to all the sights searching and launching social media campaigns were all brilliantly written and thoroughly enjoyable. The characters they encounter brought such depth to the story as well as emotion and humour. But with the introduction of Englishman Henry Wentworth life takes an unexpected turn. He is sent by Miranda to help Charlotte and although they have ill feeling towards each other after their initial encounter spending so much time in close proximity to each other the city begins to work it's magic.
Like Charlotte I didn’t like Henry straight away. He was a slow burner for me but as we start to uncover his back story I felt for him and could see why he was the way he appeared and acted. As we journey through New York with Charlotte and Henry it's almost as if the couple grow closer with each stop off in their search. Hudson almost seems to be doing Charlotte a favour. She is exposed to the wonders of the city that she has forgotten about and locked away for reasons that slowly become clear to the reader. I adored the build up of the relationship between the pair and how two lonely hearts can connect through the actions of one clever dog.
Whereas Miranda came across as so work driven and orientated. She had no time for Charlotte instead forever name dropping celebs or important political figures and organising functions and parties. To her Hudson was just a disposable canine that could be easily replaced but to Charlotte he was her everything. Miranda's answer to any problem or conundrum was to just throw money at it and hope the situation would resolve itself. Really she reminded me of Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada - sharp, self centred and out to achieve the most she can in life through any means possible. Hopefully by the end of the book she may have had a change of heart and not be so work orientated and focus on more on Charlotte who in her own way was crying out for attention.
I can't fail to mention the descriptive powers of the author, you would think an author would run out of ways to describe a city at Christmas but here Lynn Marie Hulsman doesn’t. In fact she excels and brings all aspects of the setting to life in such rich, vivid and detailed descriptions. The sights, sounds, smells, textures were just fantastically described. The food descriptions alone were absolutely mouthwatering. We really were taken on a whistle stop tour of New York.
Truthfully, I thought this would be the usual clichéd chick-lit read, a nice enough book that you would fly through yet not really remember a week or two later. Instead I was hooked and invested right from the very opening line and I found myself almost feeling as if I was Charlotte living in New York set in her ways, happy as a food writer and tester with her best mate Hudson for company. I think I could see traits of myself in her and could make comparisons with her which made me love this story all the more.
The writing was brilliant, sharp, observant and more than on point throughout. I wasn't sat on the couch in the dark windswept Ireland on a winter's night instead I was transported to a place I had never visited before - to the beauty and magic of New York in the lead up to the most wonderful time of year - Christmas. The whole scene just radiated from the pages and the laughter and humour mixed with such sensitivity was beautifully handled throughout until the very last romantic scene.
This book reminded me why I love reading so much. The pleasures of discovering a new author, becoming lost in a story and the sheer joy of not expecting much from a story and then in fact it turns out to be one of your most enjoyable reads of the year. A Miracle at Macy's is fresh, original, glittering story that sees a romantic relationship unfold with a united cause of searching for a dog that holds a special place in our main character's heart. Maybe losing Hudson will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to Charlotte. It's not often I give a book five stars particularly a chick-lit story but this book was exceptional with no faults whatsoever and deserves every one of those five stars.
I'd like to thank Emma for this fantastic review of A Miracle at Macy's which we received via NetGalley..