October is acceptable for the first of the Christmas book reviews, right? Well, if you’re one of the ones scowling at the gift wrap already in the shops, this book will get even you in to the festive spirit!
Sue Watson’s story revolves around two sisters with completely opposite life styles; Tamsin lives the life of luxury and wealth, her Christmas involves designer room sets planned months in advance, the traditional family Christmas card photoshoot and the annual rivalry of hosting the best Christmas party in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile her sister Sam is struggling with a fledgling bakery business, her increasingly lonely son and a devastating heartbreak that seems unlikely to ever heal; her Christmas is quiet, minimal and tinged with sadness.
The two sisters’ worlds collide when Tamsin’s luxury lifestyle falls apart at the arrival of bailiffs at her door. Finding herself single and homeless, surrounded by boxes containing the last remains of her perfect Christmas dream and a mobile phone with zero missed calls from her socialite ‘friends’, life seems pretty hopeless. After taking shelter at her sister’s Tamsin is forced to change her lifestyle, swapping her designer clothes for an apron and oven mitt in order to earn her keep at the bakery.
So far, so standard chick lit. However, this is where the book changes from a frothy Christmas cupcake story to something much deeper and emotional; Tamsin’s obsession with the perfect Christmas, so ridiculed by Sam, is revealed to stem from her unhappy childhood ruined with domestic violence and her father’s alcohol abuse. Whilst her little sister only has happy memories of their early life, Tamsin bore the brunt of her fathers dependence on booze and gambling – often finding her Christmas presents disappeared to the pawn shop by boxing day close. Throughout the novel we not only follow Tamsin’s recovery from financial ruin and betrayal, but also discover the truth about her sister Sams distressing Christmas loss and her apparent refusal to move on since.
Add a dramatic fire in the bakery – now both the sisters’ livelihood – unexpected romantic gestures, family revelations, recovery and acceptance, true friendships and the realisation of what is truly important in life, this christmassy tale becomes something more important then another frothy fireside read. My one criticism would be the title, which seems to devalue both the depth and emotion with which Watson writes. Don’t let it put you off, there is more to this tale than a slice of Christmas cake.
Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas launches for the kindle tomorrow (17th Oct), priced at £1.59 and is available for preorder here!
Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmo magazine may have been telling porkies about ‘having it all,’ and her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act. So after much soul searching (and comfort eating) Sue abandoned her TV career, bought a pink laptop and wrote a novel. Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, became a Kindle bestseller.
Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she’s not toiling over her latest novel, Sue can be found enjoying large bags of chicken crisps, huge tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream while watching ‘The Biggest Loser USA’