A proper family Christmas

Front cover of A proper family Christmas


by Chrissie Manby

Hodder and Straughton, London 2014

Age group: mid-teen to adult

Format: 448 page paperback

A nice family story that climaxes at a Christmas unlike what anyone expected.

The story

Sophisticated Annabel and Richard face emotional upheavals from their daughter’s mistake at a music festival.

My review

Annabel likes things to be perfect and stylish, right down to owning a fancy manor house she can show off to locals at an annual fete. However, her life is turned upside down when her sixteen year old daughter Izzy goes to a music festival and makes a huge mistake.

This book has both a mix of characters and contemporary issues which makes it interesting and more complex than just a simple assessment of life for rich and not-so-rich.

Personally, I didn’t grow to like one of Annabel’s sisters although various characters see her as the generous one, but she does help keep the story real and not so saccharine sweet as happens in some books. However, Chelsea and the two teen girls, plus the mischievous jack, I certainly liked and empathised with as I read the book.

The story deals with honesty and shame through {spoiler alert coming up!} adoptions, drug taking, transplant waiting lists, bulimia, single parenting and dementia, to more or less significance. The author has researched the medical elements for the transplant issue and used her own adoption history to ensure the story is based in reality.

Like other adult books with a Christmas title, this is not really about Christmas but used Christmas as a tool to highlight relationships. Let’s face it, Christmas is so tied up with family (which I see as a good thing!) that it can be a catalyst to facing up to issues or estranged relatives.

Would I recommend it? It was a nice read and I did enjoy it, and have contemplated reading the three others books about the same family (A proper family holiday was first and this book is followed by a proper family adventure and a wedding at Christmas).