Review: 'A Family Christmas' by Katie Flynn (2014)
Jimmy Trewin and his little sister are devastated by their mother's death and horrified to find themselves entrusted to the far from tender care of a hated neighbour, Mrs Huxtable. They hope their father will rescue them when his ship comes into port but this does not happen and when Cyril Huxtable is seen by the children hiding "a wad of notes" away, a wad which subsequently disappears, they realise they are in deep trouble. Cyril accuses them of theft and threatens a terrible revenge so they decide to leave Liverpool and try to find their mother's family in Wales.
Soon, they meet Miss Trent, a school teacher who has been unfairly dismissed, and agree to join forces since Miss Trent also hopes to find relatives in Wales. But Cyril has promised to pursue them until they hand over his property, and soon they realise he has picked up their trail...
Last year I got the chance to read and review Katie Flynn's Christmas novel 'A Christmas to Remember' (click here to read my review). It was my first Katie Flynn novel and I ended up quite enjoying her distinctive style. I really liked the historical feel of her stories, especially around Christmas time, which is something that set the story apart from other Christmas books I've read. When I found an unexpected review copy of another one of Katie's Christmas novels on my doormat, namely 'A Family Christmas' which was released by Arrow in October 2014, I looked forward to once again going back in time for a festive family tale set in the UK!
After the loss of their mother, twelve-year-old Jimmy Trewin and his little sister Mo were left behind by their father who went back to sea. They were forced to stay with the cruel Mrs. Huxtable and her son Cyril, who only want to use the children for their own benefit. The kids hope their father will come back to get them, but when this doesn't happen, they decide to leave Liverpool and go to Wales to find their grandparents. Thankfully, they cross paths with Glenys Trent, a school teacher who was dismissed and is also planning on travelling to Wales to find her family. Together, they start on a journey to hopefully find what they are looking for, but it doesn't take long before Cyril Huxtable manages to pick up their trail, determined to get back what is his...
This novel turned out to perfectly fit my expectations: an enjoyable historical family story in the distinctive style of the author, Katie Flynn. Even though I've only read two of her novels, Katie Flynn definitely has her own writing style and it is a style I personally quite enjoy. The first half of the book is dedicated to the two children leaving Liverpool and starting their search, and it's quite quick-paced with several things happening. The second part of the novel is a bit slower, but this also suited the things happening (I don't want to give too much away). Overall, the story was a bit predictable, but this didn't ruin the reading experience for me.
I quickly warmed to the three main characters: Jimmy is a lovely big brother to his sister Mo, who is quite grown up and determined for a six-year-old. Then there's Ms. Trent; I loved how she wanted to help the children and her story just really spoke to me. I do think it's a shame the book is not that festive; it wasn't a real Christmas read to me and could also have been given a completely different title. Yet, that makes this book even more suitable to be read all year through. 'A Family Christmas' is a real Katie Flynn novel with a wonderful British touch, a captivating storyline and a strong sense of the importance of family; a read I really enjoyed!