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2 January 2014

Review: 'A Christmas to Remember' by Katie Flynn (2013)

A few days before Christmas Tess Williams rushes into Albert Payne's tobacconist shop, with two boys in hot pursuit, saying she's a thief. Albert chases the boys away, and though Tess does not realise it, this incident changes her life.

Tess lives with her grandmother, Edie, in a small flat on Heyworth Street in Norwich.She has recently returned from Bell Farm, where she was evacuated during the war, and is being bullied by her schoolmates, but when the handsome Snowy White comes to her rescue she thinks her troubles are over, and returns for a working holiday to Bell Farm and her old friend Jonty.

This leaves Edie to her own devices, however, and Tess is jealous of the friendship which blossoms between her grandmother and the tobacconist.Yet though Tess resents Albert, it is to him she turns when things start to go wrong.

Thanks to the lovely people at Random House I received a review copy of Katie Flynn's 2013 Christmas release, 'A Christmas to Remember.' I hadn't read anything by Katie Flynn before, so was curious to start reading, especially since it was another Christmas read to keep that festive holiday spirit going during the last days of December!

'A Christmas to Remember' focuses on Tess Williams, a teenager living together with her grandmother Edie in Liverpool, several years after the Second World War. Before she came to live with her grandmother, she spent a few years working at Bell Farm together with her friend Jonty, but is now back in the city and back at school. Tess is being bullied, but as soon as she meets Albert Payne, a tobacconist, and Snowy White, a handsome older boy, her life starts to change. As Tess grows up, she tries her best to protect the relationship she has with her grandmother (she's not quite ready to share her with someone else just yet), but at the same time Tess herself starts to notice boys are giving her more attention than before...

Tess is a lovely and enthusiastic main character who really turned this into a great novel for me. I loved her relationship with her gran, Edie, and how the reader gets to experience her growing up and making all kinds of important decisions in her life. Next to Tess, there are some well-written and enjoyable other characters, such as Edie, Albert Payne (the tobacconist), and Jonty, who works at Bell Farm. The storyline of the novel took a bit of time to get going, but after about 60 pages I found myself immersed in the book, curious about what would happen next and where Tess would eventually end up (and with whom!).

I really liked the scene setting of the book; part of it is set in the city and part of it in the country, which resulted in a good mix. I also loved the older feel of the story being set just after World War II, when times were still relatively hard. 'A Christmas to Remember' is a feel-good, warm and easy read, which can be read throughout the year, because overall Christmas only plays a small role in the story. This novel was definitely a great introduction to Katie Flynn's writing and I look forward to picking up some of her other novels!


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