This isn’t a new book. Last year when it came out, it was at the top of all the must-read book lists, Instagram, and anywhere else people talk about books. I bought it then, but I found it difficult to get into – not because it was bad; not at all. I just had a hard time connecting with the characters and understanding their dynamic. I put it down and read other books, but this year decided I was going to finish it, and I did! And my advice is that if you have the same reaction I did at the beginning, don’t give up, because it ended up being so satisfying and rewarding.
It’s not really a Christmas story, per say. It only takes place at Christmas. Suzanne, who lost her best friends in an avalanche 25 years before and still has nightmares, is waiting for her daughters (who aren’t really her daughters, but the children of the friends she lost) to come home to Scotland for the holidays. It’s a festive scene, for sure. Snowy mountains, a small village with a cozy cafe where everyone gathers to gossip…I could easily see myself spending Christmas there. But other than Posy, none of the McBride girls stuck around the Scottish Highlands. In Manhattan, Beth is a stay-at-home mom of two girls longing to get back into the work force while her husband presses her for another baby, while Hannah is a high-powered career woman who has successfully built a wall between herself and anyone who might want to get close – or so she thought.
The relationship between the sisters is stilted, which I think is why I had such a hard time connecting at first. My own relationship with my sister is very close, and I can’t imagine any situation in which I wouldn’t be happy to see her, or the rest of my family. But in the end, this is a story about family, and watching the three girls work through their issues with each other and with their adoptive mother was so touching it had me in tears at times. And the ending wasn’t a saccharine sweet Happily-Ever-After – it was clear that while things were definitely better, they would have to work to keep it that way. I think that’s why I found it so satisfying – because it was real. All of the characters knew that they couldn’t just slide back into their old lives and expect the progress they made to stay the same.
So if you didn’t read this book last year when that gorgeous cover was first splashed all over social media, definitely pick it up. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a cup of hot tea (or, if you want to be authentic, your favorite whiskey or Scotch and a couple of pieces of shortbread) and will give you all kinds of feels for this holiday season.
Looking for another book to give you the holiday feels? Check out A Holiday Wish, the first installment of the Silver Bells series! And if you sign up for my mailing list, you can get a free companion short story!