Monday, 15 December 2014

Book Review - A Season to Remember by Shelia O'Flanagan

A Season to Remember
A Season to Remember by Shelia O'Flanagan
Published: 27th October 2011
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 372
Available in Hardback, Paperback and on Kindle
In this collection of interlinked short stories Sheila O'Flanagan brings her own trademark sparkle to Christmas - a time when friends, families and lovers traditionally come together and when every person is hoping their wishes will come true.
Firstly I would like to thank bookbridgr and Headline Review for sending me a copy to review, it’s been a long time since I read a novel by Shelia O’Flanagan and it was a pleasure to read something by her again.  Unlike her other books A Season to Remember is a collection of short stories all linked because they take place at The Sugar Loaf Lodge. I didn’t realise this initially and was worried I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much because of it, but I’m pleased to say it was a joy to read and definitely put me in a festive mood.
The Sugar Loaf Lodge is run by Neil and Claire Archer, who have turned it from derelict old house with a tragic past into a luxury boutique hotel, which I would love to visit myself one day! The book begins by introducing us to Neil and Clare and we learn that they are having financial difficulties and have hardly any bookings for over Christmas. They’ve just rejected a deal to sell the hotel to a large company, financially this was maybe not the best decision but they both feel a connection to the hotel, Claire especially. Somehow the Sugar Loaf becomes fully booked for Christmas and they begin to welcome their guests for the season.
Each of the rooms in the hotel are named after Irish mountains and so are the chapter titles, in each chapter we meet the room occupants and learn  their background story and find out how they ended up at the Sugar Loaf Lodge for Christmas. I really liked this and was surprised how much background details we learn about these characters in such a short amount of time, they felt like we’d known them for much longer than a few pages.  Not all of their stories are happy ones but I loved the way that while at the Sugar Loaf they all seemed to let their worries melt away and enjoyed themselves.
The Sugar Loaf Lodge for me was the perfect place to set a Christmas story, the place just oozes luxury with its first class restaurant and award winning spa. Set at the foot of the mountains in lovely grounds it makes the perfect place to spend Christmas, I mean who can resist roaring log fires at Christmas?
Louisa’s story was my favourite as it gave the Lodge some history and helped to bring the whole book together as you could begin to see how Claire felt such a connection to the place and why the guests felt so spoilt. I also liked the way the last couple of stories tied many of the characters together as they celebrated Christmas Day together, this for me made this book better the a short story collection. I would love for Shelia O’Flanagan to write more about some of these characters as I’d love to know what happens next to them.
If you are looking for a feel good Christmas read then I can highly recommend this book, it highlights the fact we don’t always get on with our families but at Christmas we try our best to compromise and come together to make the best of what we have. It has left me with a lovely warm Christmassy glow and a longing to go to The Sugar Loaf Lodge myself someday.
Rating 4/5

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