Friday 31 July 2015

Reviewed: It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe was published by Transworld on September 25, 2014.

Thanks to the publisher for approving me for a copy on Netgalley.

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is my first Judy Astley book and when I reached the end and saw the long list of her previous books, I had to wonder why. This was such a cosy, entertaining read and it was so very festive and Christmassy that I half expected to be snowed in the moment I put the book down, finishing the book in the space of a few hours. I loved how this book really was all about Christmas. Every page screams Christmas at you from the masses of snow, the mistletoe, the Christmas trees, the presents, the turkey, the songs and the carols and mostly, the big family get-together. Family is what makes Christmas for me and your family may not be perfect, everything might not be rosy but to all be together at Christmas, sat around the big tree, reliving family memories and bickering and teasing and stuffing your faces – that is how I picture the festive season and that’s what we get in It Must Have Been the Mistletoe. I’ve read few books that have captured the essence of Christmas like this one.

Anna and Mike have been split up but still living amicably with each other for a little while now after their long and happy marriage. However, things are about to change as they’ve decided to get divorced whilst new people enter their lives. This is going to be their last Christmas still married and so they’ve asked for things to be a bit different this year – inviting their three children, spouses (in two cases) and kids to stay in a cottage they’ve rented in Cornwall so they can all spend Christmas together and happy. I liked the idea of this and how Anna and Mike were still good friends instead of at each other’s throats, and what a beautiful destination they chose to spend Christmas. Their children, Thea, Emily and Jimi were each very different people and had their own stories, although we hear a lot more about Thea and Emily than we do Jimi. They all went along with their parents’ idea to spend Christmas in Cornwall and it was nice how they were all still together as a family rather than spending Christmas away from home, separately.

I think one of the reasons I liked this book so much was how Judy wrote it all so realistically, I could see the events in this book happening in real life, too. They were a close-knit family, each with their own individual stresses (or joys) and nothing’s too out of the ordinary, there’s nothing you can’t envisage being fixed and there’s nothing massively groundbreaking – just your typical family facing the good and bad points in life. Having said that, although the book is quite comfortable in one aspect, there’s a snag in that as the unexpected arrivals of Charlotte and Alec, the new people Mike and Anna have been seeing, cause a bit of a stir. Tensions are at a high and everything starts to become a lot more hard work for everyone. I think you kind of know where this one is going, but I enjoyed every second of seeing it work out.

The character we get to know the most in It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is Thea, and I found her to be very likeable. She’s recently split up with Richard and she’s still working out her plans for the future. She knows she wants a cat, but that’s about it. I really wanted Thea to meet someone new and someone who appreciated her, for she was a lovely, caring person who’d gone through her own heartache and deserved someone who could be kind to her. Thea would like a new relationship too but she doesn’t help herself once she’s in Cornwall, since the only person she’s drawn to is gay. Sean was my favourite character – he was such a laugh and yet very considerate with it. I looked forward to his parts in the book and always had a smile on my face when he was around. Though saying that, there were so many well-crafted characters in this book – one for everybody to relate to. Judy really draws on a family Christmas effortlessly and everything transpires naturally throughout the book. I did want maybe a slightly longer ending – it felt a tiny bit abrupt, but in the same way it was probably just because I didn’t want the book to end. Judy writes a gorgeous setting and I was hooked on this book from page one – wanting to head to Cornwall with my family for Christmas too. It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is a warm, witty and very amusing festive story – well, well worth a read!

Extremely festive, inviting Christmas read. Predictable but warm and cosy.


  1. I read this last Christmas and thought it was really Christmassy and romantic!

    1. It's super Christmassy - it's so nice to read a book which is actually as Chrismassy as the title suggests :)


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