I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Publisher: Andersen Press
Published: November 2021
Three years ago, Margot’s life was turned upside down when her fiancé, Harry, went missing in action on the Western Front. Worse, she was left with a devastating secret which threatened to ruin her life and destroy the reputation of her family. As a respectable vicar’s daughter, Margot has had to guard that secret with great care ever since, no matter how much pain it causes her.
Now it’s Christmas 1919, and Margot’s family is gathering back home in the vicarage for the first time since the end of the Great War. And miraculously Harry has returned, hoping to see Margot and rekindle their romance. Can Margot ever reveal the shocking truth to the only man she has ever loved?
Starting the year by catching up with a long-overdue review of this lovely little seasonal book. I read this just before Christmas in an attempt to finally read a book in the season it’s set in and it definitely helped that I was in the holiday mood already when reading this!
Christmas historical fiction is not one I frequently read, so I was very curious about it as I was going into this book. I enjoyed the setting in Christmas 1919, the first after the end of the First World War, and I felt like the special occasion and the contrasting feelings of the characters were very well captured. I also liked the small English village setting, where everyone knows one another and there is a real sense of community – with all its challenges as well as the joys this can bring.
Margot was an interesting main character. She is guarding a heavy secret and has had to deal with a lot of pain, and I liked how tactfully some of the heavier themes were tackled (e.g. teenage pregnancy and emotional trauma/PTSD). Her relationships with her family and her presumed-dead-now-returned ex-fiancé are complicated and very realistic. She was certainly good to get to know, even though I found her to be extremely frustrating at times, though I won’t go into more detail to avoid potential spoilers. The rest of the characters also remained very surface-level and lacked any significant depth, and that meant I wasn’t very sold on the romance aspect of this either.
This was an issue I had with most of the book actually. The way it’s structured makes it feel more like a connection of journal entries of episodes rather than a single story flowing smoothly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, but ended up making this feel rather disjointed to me. It also felt like the book was dragging in quite a few places, which for a story this short is problematic.
Overall, this is a cute Christmas story. It’s not bad but remains a bit too superficial for my liking even though this will probably not be an issue for younger readers.