Review: 'Humbugs and Heartstrings' by Catherine Ferguson (2014)
Two ex-friends. One Christmas to remember …
Bobbie's boss Carol is a real misery-guts, dedicated to making the lives of everyone around her unhappy in pursuit of every last penny. What makes it worse is that the two women have history: once they were best friends.
When handsome hotelier Charlie steps into the frame the two women go to battle as one sees a romantic future ahead and the other a possible lifeboat for her business. With wonderful warmth and humour, and the odd mince pie fight, the women are forced to confront their shared past, the turbulent present and, most importantly, the potential of the future.
The moment I first saw the lovely festive cover of Catherine Ferguson's debut novel 'Humbugs and Heartstrings', I straight away knew this was a read to be added to my TBR-list. I just love the colours (the pink combined with the green and red) and the Christmas feel of it, and I was quite curious to check it out! So, I was really glad when I was contacted about a possible review copy, which provided me with the chance to sit down with another Christmas read to get into the holiday spirit and to check out a new author's work at the same time!
Bobbie works for cleaning company 'Spit and Polish', a job which doesn't make her happy but she knows she can't give up. Her younger brother suffers from scoliosis and needs an expensive operation in order to lead a normal life, which is something Bobbie is busy saving for. This means holding onto her job and dealing with her bitchy boss, who also happens to be her ex-best friend Carol. The two of them used to be really close, but over the years things changed and especially Carol can't seem to stand Bobbie. When the two of them fall for the same guy, hotel-owner Charlie, things get even worse between the two of them. Both Carol and Bobbie have their own reasons for falling for Charlie, and during their battle they are forced to confront past events and what happened to their friendship...
What I really liked about this novel is the fact that it's a Christmas/December read (which is already a great start in itself), but one that not only mainly focused on romance but also on the broken friendship between two women. Caroline Ferguson's novel deals with three things that are not just important during Christmas time, but all year round, namely family, friends, and love; all topics that make for an entertaining read. Bobbie is an easily likeable main character who really cares about the people around her and is quite easy-going. In contrast, Carol was really easy to dislike, thanks to her moody behaviour and general bitchiness. I really liked how aspects of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' were used in the novel, but with a different twist.
While the story started off great and quite quick-paced, there appeared to be a bit of a low dip after the middle and near the end. Things suddenly developed a bit slower, which didn't necessarily spoil the reading experience but I definitely noticed. Next to that, I also have to be honest and say that Carol was a bit too mean for my personal liking. I was rooting for her and Bobbie to make up, but she was just so mean and unlikeable, and it didn't really get any better as the story progressed. This book is a promising one, though, and I do have high hopes for Christine Ferguson's next release. Overall, 'Humbugs and Heartstrings' is an easy-to-read holiday tale, based on one of the classics by Charles Dickens, and all about friendship, family and romance.