Wednesday, 6 January 2016

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe

Published: 25th September 2014
Publisher: Transworld
Pages: 349
Available in Hardback, Paperback and on Kindle

Thea's parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea. even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea's boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can't decide whether or not she minds.

There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements.

As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is one of the most Christmassy books I’ve read this Christmas. It has a beautiful festive cover and unlike many “Christmas” books I’ve read it’s actually about Christmas which was wonderful to read in the middle of the festive season.
I really enjoyed the sound of this book, Anna and Mike are sixty-something parents who have chosen to divorce after forty years of marriage. They intend to remain friends with each other and decide to spend one last Christmas together as a family. They’ve booked a cottage on the Cornish coast and have ask their three children Thea, Jimi and Emily and their families to join them there over Christmas.  As with all large family gatherings some things are bound to go wrong including being snowed in with a couple of unexpected guests.
I did find that this book had a slow start and to be honest I was not totally comfortable by Mike and Anna’s decision to divorce and seek new partners, it just seemed a really odd thing to do after a  long and happy marriage. It took me a while to get these thoughts out of my head and focus more on the other characters. Thea, the eldest daughter has just broken up with fiancĂ© Richard who decided he prefers his poodle and his sister to Thea. She’s not really in the mood for Christmas this year but tries to embrace it for the sake of her family, can the cottage’s owner give Thea her sparkle back? We don’t find out too much about the other family members other than Emily seems to be a bit moody. My favourite character had to be Charlotte, so was so brutally honest and put her foot in her mouth on more than one occasion!
After a few chapters I was hooked as the full on family Christmas got under way. There was tree-decorating, carols, snowmen, board games and of course the Christmas dinner. I just loved all the Christmas details and what made it all the more Christmassy was seeing the whole family together as one unit despite all the bickering, moaning and fall-out of normal family life.
Surprisingly given the number of previous novels listed at the back this is my first Judy Astley novel, it certainly won’t be my last I’m hooked. I loved the details of the scenery and am longing to visit a remote cottage for my own magical family Christmas. I also loved the way she brought her characters to life, the felt very real to me with their ordinary everyday problems and the way she wrote the romance in the book was just perfect. This is exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading at Christmas full of family, romance and a little touch of magic!
I’d rate this book 4/5 and am looking forward to reading the follow up book A Merry Mistletoe Wedding.

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