About Books #30: A Vicarage Christmas

I promise all my reviews won’t be about Christmas. For now though, you’ll have to bear with me. Because quite frankly – I’m a Christmas-junky. And this book has just the right amount of fluff, of vicarage (apparently that’s a thing) and of course: of Christmas. Seriously, a vicarage Christmas. Apparently that’s where it’s at!

Quick disclaimer: I got the chance to read this book via Netgalley. All opinions are completely my own, though!

Story

Welcome to Thornwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings happen and surprises are in store for the four Holley sisters…

Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy chaos of the busy vicarage.

After several years away from home, Anna returns for Christmas… and an important announcement from her father. As much as she once loved the village, coming back is hard and puts Anna’s social capabilities to the test.

Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, she heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!

Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?

Characters

Anna Holley has social anxiety and at the beginning of the book that made me go “YES”.  As the story went on, though, it was really clear that her anxiety was rooted in an underlying problem. And again, I went: YES.

The kind of trauma and guilt – again: it’s something you see coming, but when it comes, boy does it hit you. And the thing about Simon? Wow. Again: you kinda see it coming. But it’s so… Just wow.

Also – thank goodness that this book is the first concerning these sisters because I need to know what happens to her sisters!

BTW:

How she’d managed to disguise her social anxiety as mere shyness for twenty-two years was testament to how chaotic her family life was. It was easy to get lost in the noisy mix, and so often no one noticed she wasn’t speaking at all.

Let it be clear: this one’s definitely from Anna’s perspective.  Again: can’t wait to see the other characters’ take on this!

Narration

Just… Yes.

If you want an English bedroom: here you got it.

All her things were gone save for a few Famous Five books from her childhood, and a dusty blue ribbon for winning the high jump at her school’s field day when she was thirteen that still hung from the mirror.

And you know that feeling when the people in the book do exactly what you need them to do and LIKE each other? Yes:

Even more alarmingly, she thought Simon felt it too, judging by the way his hand jerked a little as she took the bauble.

If you want the total awkwardness that kissing can be – this story has the most perfect description of that (how DOES that work? How do you know who leans forward, who initiaties, I still haven’t figured this stuff out.)

And there’s actual gems in there, like this one:

What point does guilt serve? To make us aware of our mistakes and failings, yes, but then surely we must move on. There is no point being mired in guilt. It only destroys us.

Words to live by, anybody?

Overall: 4,25/5

As should be clear, by now, I really liked this book. The only thing I wish were different, are the conditions in which I read it – we’re having some of the warmest October days since people started measuring that stuff. And all I want now is Anna’s Yorkshire Puddings, Ruth’s chocolate mousse and all the Christmas food and fluffiness! Also, fires. I’m now desperately in need of an open fire.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re wanting to read anything like a fluffy piece of Christmas-goodness? Then, yes. Abso-freaking-lutely.

-Saar