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Girly Christmas story with many, many, many exclamation marks...
on 18 December 2013
I'm not a big reader of 'women's lit' but I felt like reading something light, romantic and seasonal and Twelve Days of Christmas looked like it would suit very nicely.
Most of the characters are well drawn, to the extent that there were quite a few occasions when I felt like shouting at them. I can understand why some reader reviews comment that the house set-up that leads to Holly hosting Christmas for the hero's elderly relatives (in his absence!) is rather strange, but having known a few old-school elderly posh folks, this rang cringingly true - and then I was annoyed because Holly made little attempt to emphasise that she was a 21st century woman, not a housekeeper, as surely any rational human being would have done.
The male protagonist and love-interest, Jude, doesn't appear in person until half way through the book. I'm not entirely sure why he's described as surly and rude, because he didn't seem that way to me. I was also sad that the hints to a deeper, more sensual man - the art, the role in the village mummer's play, the link to the 'celtic' horse on the hill - didn't materialise.
There were any number of moments in Twelve Days that were reminiscent of farce, which was fine up to a point - the piling-on of the elderly folks' needs was amusing, in its way. However, throwing in misunderstandings about pregnancies, gay or not-gay people, and so on, looked a bit forced. And heaven only knows why either of the two boys would have been attracted to Coco, who sounds as dumb and daft as they come. Either the character needed beefing up, or the guys weren't as smart as the plot required them to be.
Like many of this book's detractors, I was rather put off by the writing style. There was some interesting plotting here, but oh! those blummin' exclamation marks. There were more exclamation marks in this single book than in all the others I've read this year put together. When added to a few uncomfortable comma placements and segues into the present tense for no obvious reason, there were any number of occasions when I stopped thinking about Holly and Jude and started wondering about authors and editors, who aren't all that seasonal or romantic (as far as I know...).
I would have lived with all this for a novel light read, if it wasn't for the ending. After spending a lot of time not really engaging with each other, Holly and Jude decide they love each other with little preamble on page 401 out of 401. I don't think I'm that much of a cynic - rather, I'd hoped there would be a bit more romance in there. I did, however, fall hook, line and sinker for the dog, Merlin. He sounds quite lovely.