01 Nov 4 Gorgeous Seasonal Books for Christmas 2023
It’s Christmas! At least it is in my house, where Christmas titles have been coming in thick and fast from all my favourite authors. I’ve been enjoying all the magic of the season with Sweet Mercies by Anne Booth, The Christmas Love Letters by Sue Moorcroft, The Christmas Book Club by Sarah Morgan and This Christmas by Emma Heatherington.
Their stories have taken me to New Hampshire, Norfolk, and Ireland, twice, as snow falls, lights twinkle, romance blossoms and problems are solved in fine seasonal style.
Love, friendship, kindness and caring are all you want at Christmas and these four deliver in fine style. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did – for me they’re all five star reads.
Sweet Mercies by Anne Booth, Vintage, hardback and ebook
We’re back at the convent of St Philomena’s in time for Christmas, as the Sisters celebrate the success of their newly-opened B&B and look forward to the year ahead.
But a visitor to the parish brings trouble for Sister Bridget. What happened in his past to make him dislike the small, friendly Irish nun?
There are secrets to be revealed, hurts to be healed and sins to be forgiven in this gentle and compelling story.
I really loved Small Miracles and was very excited to meet Sisters Margaret, Cecilia and Bridget of St Philomena’s convent again.
This was a less dramatic story than Small Miracles, which centred on saving the convent, but it was just as enjoyable. A gentle, easy pace introduces us to both familiar and new characters, with all their strengths and frailties and stories to tell.
There’s plenty humour here – nonagenarian Sister Cecilia’s adventures with kitten Pangur would make a book of their own – but also lots of emotions as Sister Bridget’s sister in Ireland, Mary, reflects on life, marriage and the unfulfilment of her younger dreams. Can Sister Bridget make amends?
I particularly like the way God, belief and religion are woven into this story with neither drum banging, moralising nor apology – just a simple assumption that faith can make better people of us all. It reflects the Sisters’ attitude to their friends, acquaintances and neighbours. Of course, the Sisters themselves have their faults and failings, but it makes them all the more endearing. A warm, witty and delightful read.
The Christmas Love Letters by Sue Moorcroft, Avon, paperback and ebook
Sue Moorcroft does it again with a thoughtful, romantic and heart-warming story for Christmas. In a change from her usual snowy Middledip setting, she takes us to Nelson’s Bar, in Norfolk, where single mum Maddie acts as a carer for her great-aunt Ruth. She, Ruth and little Lyla form a strong unit, but when stranger Raff seeks out Ruth, claiming she had a long-term affair with his adopted father, it looks like Maddie’s family dynamics are about to change. As Maddie learns the details of Ruth’s star-crossed love affair with Nigel through their cherished love letters, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Raff. But there are so many complications in the way…
This was a strong story with an engrossing plot. I love that Sue Moorcroft keeps readers in the loop at all times – there are no unreliable narrators, no hidden surprises, just solid action that keeps the story moving on, sweeping the reader along with it, to find out what will happen next.
There is also so much emotion to be explored here – romantic love, family love, lost love and selfish love are all themes that affect the main players, and each has their own challenges to face before finding resolution.
And within it all are all the traditions of Christmas – a little girl looking forward to Santa’s visit, mince pies and mulled wines, snowmen, fetes and nativity plays.
A charming and heart-warming seasonal read with emotional depth, lovely characters and a cracking plot. I loved it.
The Christmas Book Club by Sarah Morgan, HQ, paperback and ebook
English-born Hattie Coleman needs a Christmas miracle if she is to keep her Vermont hotel The Maple Sugar Inn running over the festive season. A young widow with a little daughter, she’s struggling, and her temperamental chef and bad-tempered housekeeper aren’t helping.
Meanwhile, 40-year-old chums Erica, Claudia and Anna are on the way to the hotel for their annual book club break. Each has her own life challenges looming – and at least one has a secret to spill. Will Christmas work its magic for them all?
This is Sarah Morgan in top form! She gives us four strong female characters with very real-life problems whom the reader can instantly relate to. She invites us in with a strong and intriguing plot, the threads all drawn together beautifully. Then she sprinkles the narrative with warmth, friendship and romance, and of course lots of Christmas sparkle. The men in the story – Noah, Peter and “sexy” Jack – have their parts to play, too, keeping romance firmly to the fore.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without children, so little Delphi, Hattie’s daughter, is a welcome addition to the story. She has the strongest Christmas wish of all. Can Santa make her dreams come true, too? This is a wonderfully cosy Christmas read, I really enjoyed it.
This Christmas by Emma Heatherington, Penguin, paperback and ebook
When Rose and Charlie find themselves double booked at a tiny cottage in a remote Irish village over Christmas, they have no choice but to get on with it. But how can each find the solitude they crave when forced into such close proximity?
This was a lovely Christmas romance. Leading characters Rose and Charlie both have really strong, emotional background stories that made their longing to escape Christmas wholly convincing. The hurt and loss that contrived to keep them exploring their feelings for each other was also very believable.
It’s a real art to take grief as the main theme of a romance and yet make the story sufficiently light to keep the warm glow of a seasonal setting to the forefront for the reader all the way through. This author does it admirably
The setting was as Christmassy as it can get, with snow-covered cottages, cosy pubs, Christmas fayres and carol singing. I loved the two dogs in the story, too! A warm and ultimately joyful festive read.
More reviews of 2023 Christmas Reads