Title: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe
Author: Abby Clements
Publication date: October 25, 2012
Length: 362 pages
Genre: Chick lit
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel used to be inseparable – but their lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Now thirty-five, they have all but fallen out of touch; glamorous single girl Laurie is based in London and dedicated to her career in fashion; Rachel seemingly living the family idyll in Yorkshire.
But when Rachel’s mother-in-law needs urgent treatment in London, and disasters at work and in her love life mean Laurie needs to flee, a house swap falls into place. Soon gentle Rachel is far from the village bake sales, braving the city’s mean streets while trying to keep her marriage and family together; while Laurie attempts to work an Aga, befriend the wary village locals – and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home for Christmas?
If you’re looking for an easy and charming read for the Christmas season, look no further – Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Abby Clements’s debut novel, will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit. It’s a light and entertaining read that would make a perfect Christmas present or a great read the week before Christmas Day. Even though it’s only October and snow, Christmas trees and fairy lights are still nowhere to be seen, Laurie and Rachel’s story made me feel like I was sitting in fire-lit living room with the lingering smell of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg filling the air. On top of a witty storyline, the book has a festive, cheerful atmosphere which I really enjoyed.
While lots books from this genre tend to be quite predictable, I was relieved to find that Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is not one of them. There are so many chick lit books out there (usually about love triangles) where you can figure out the ending before the book has even started but Clements’s book was definitely a pleasant surprise. The plot was very well written, full of twists and turns and I seriously couldn’t predict what would happen next. The characters are likeable, the plot is original and very enjoyable and I’m not exaggerating when I say I read it in one day. Also, in addition to the fact that the book has a stunning (and very sparkly) cover which I absolutely adore, it also includes two bonus Christmas recipes that are featured in the story. How creative is that?
The book has a third person narrator but it’s divided into two parts – one chapter is about Rachel, the next one is about Laurie and so on, which I particularly liked about this book. Laurie is a brilliant character and she even reminded me of myself a little bit. She’s the typical city girl who lives on takeaway food, whose cooking skills are limited (or let’s just say non-existent) and whose countryside surviving skills are even worse than her ability to cook. Now, give this woman a pair of high heels and designer clothes clearly unfit for the countryside and put her in a cottage with no central heating or anything remotely modern and you’re guaranteed a real good laugh. Laurie’s attempts to fit in this small community is hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed this side of the story.
The only thing I wasn’t particularly keen on was the writing itself. While I enjoyed the plot, I found dialogues and some descriptive parts rather bland. It’s not as bland as to put you off and as I said I loved the book itself, but I do think it could have been better. And by better I mean a bit wittier, funnier or more realistic in terms of how the characters talk to each other and how the third person narrator tells us what’s going on in their minds. For there were times when I was trying to put my finger on what was missing and the only explanation I managed to come up with is that it’s a bit… simple and fluffy. Something was missing for me and I think it was that extra bit of spark, humour and realism from the writing and the dialogues. At the same time, it has a very warm and festive feel to it which is always a plus.
All in all, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is a great debut and a light, entertaining read for winter nights. I would recommend it if you like this genre or if you’re looking for some Christmas reads. And don’t forget to try the recipes after reading the book! That’s exactly what I’m planning to do.
‘Not even half seven yet, Laurie,’ the young security guard teased her. ‘Don’t you ever get a lie-in?’
‘Big day today,’ she said, swinging open the glass door of her office, latte held tight in her other hand. ‘If I’m lucky I might get some sleep next week.’
Laurie crossed the empty entrance hall, winter sunlight streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and stepped into the waiting lift.