Monday 24 November 2014

Review ~ The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan.

Title: The Christmas Spirit.
Author: Susan Buchanan.
Genre: Chick Lit.
Publication Date: November 27, 2013.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

What a gorgeous, feel-good read The Christmas Spirit was. This is just the perfect book to pick up if you’re in need of some Christmas cheer, a little hopefulness and positivity to make you feel that your own Christmas, whether you want it to come around or not, might actually turn out better than you imagined. Set mostly in Sugar and Spice bakery, and let me tell you that the author’s description of the cakes will make you desperately hungry, we meet a selection of characters who are down and out and dreading Christmas. But then there’s the charming Natalie Hope, who might just find a way to inject some Christmas spirit into them all. The Christmas Spirit is full of love, friendship and cakes – what more could you possibly ask for?

We’re straight away introduced to Natalie and learn about her magical job – she spends ten months a year picking out four deserving candidates from the town she’s working at, four characters in need of some Christmas spirit. Then from the beginning of December right up until the day itself, Natalie works at helping these four people towards a special Christmas, and maybe a more promising future too. I liked Natalie straight away – her sole purpose seemed to be to make people happy so how could I not? I think we need more real-life Natalie’s. Natalie’s time in Winstanton is spent working in Sugar and Spice bakery, taking over temporarily from Mrs Williams who is going into hospital. I loved how through the bakery, we’re introduced to all the characters who popped in for various reasons – whether they were in need of some comfort in the form of a chat, or some cake, or whether they just wanted to escape their working life for a little while, or in fact try and find themselves a job. It had that real community feel with kind employees and it felt warm and cosy and a place where you could just relax for a little while.

Natalie had a caring and considerate approach to everyone who walked into Sugar and Spice, which was endearing and uplifting to read. There’s Stanley, who really tugged at the heartstrings. Preparing himself to spend his first Christmas without his wife Edie, who has passed away, he’s struggling to keep on going. We also meet Meredith, who’s the opposite of the sweet-natured Stanley. She’s no interest in Christmas and spends all her time bossing her poor employee Sophie about. There’s also Rebecca and Jacob, who are individually down due to relationship or unemployment issues. I loved how the author wrote about normal things which could get in the way of a happy Christmas time. She seemed to show understanding that it doesn’t have to be something groundbreakingly new, but rather, everyday problems don’t just go away at Christmas and that time of year doesn’t automatically make everything better again. As the reader, you’re just hoping that Natalie can help because each character warrants their own happy ending, surely. At the beginning I felt like there would be too many characters to keep up with but through the format of the bakery, that wasn’t an issue. I managed to connect with them all and that’s what made the story so rewarding and heart-warming to read.

The Christmas Spirt was beautiful from start to finish. I especially loved the ending but then it did make me think that maybe this book wasn’t entirely what I expected because I thought Natalie’s involvement could have been played up just that little bit more. Regardless of that, though, I think this is one of the most naturally cheering Christmas books I’ve read. From the delectable setting to the wide mix of interesting, loveable characters and that little bit of an enchanting feel, there’s something for everybody to love in this book whether you’re feeling festive of otherwise. It’s light-hearted and yet quite thought-provoking in its own way and will leave you feeling more optimistic and encouraged, hopefully ready to indulge in the spirit of Christmas. And if you don’t have your own Natalie Hope to make everything seem that touch better, maybe you could just treat yourself to some cake instead and see how that works its magic.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Susan Buchanan has written three novels in the chicklit and contemporary fiction genres: Sign of the Times, The Dating Game and The Christmas Spirit. She lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony, and their baby daughter. She is currently working on her fourth and fifth novels, What If and another Christmas themed book, both due to be released in 2015.

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  1. Thanks for taking part in the tour today! x

  2. I've read so many great reviews of this. It's on my wish list. X

    1. Me too. Hope you get to it! It's a lovely read. x


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