A Snow Garden and Other Stories Hardcover – 5 Nov 2015
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"Full of bittersweet Christmas moments. A real gem." (Good Housekeeping)
"These stories are heartwarming." (Imogen Lycett Green Daily Mail)
"Joyce is warm and very funny, and she has a merciless eye for those nightmare moments when weaknesses are exposed and everything is called into question." (Kate Saunders The Times)
"The perfect tonic for tinsel-itis, [A Snow Garden] is laced with quietly devastating observations on love and marriage." (Hephzibah Anderson Observer)
"As sparkling and Christmassy as a selection box. " (Sunday Mirror)
From the Inside Flap
Seven stories to span the Christmas holidays:
A Faraway Smell of Lemon: The School Term has ended. It is almost Christmas but Binny, out last-minute shopping couldn't feel less like wishing glad tidings to all men. Ducking out of the rain she finds herself in the sort of shop she would never normally visit.
The Marriage Manual: Christmas Eve. Two parents endeavour to construct their son's Christmas present from a DIY kit and in the process find themselves deconstructing their marriage.
Christmas at the Airport: A glitch in the system, travellers stranded and all sorts of lives colliding in the face of a sudden birth...
The Boxing Day Ball: Maureen has never been out with the local girls before. Who knew that a disco in the Village Hall could be life-changing?
A Snow Garden: Two little boys, dumped with their divorced father for his share of the Christmas holidays and none of them with a clue how to enjoy it.
I'll Be Home for Christmas The most famous boy in the world comes home hoping to escape the madness with a normal family Christmas.
Trees: As if Christmas wasn't wearing enough, now his elderly parent is asking for a hole in the ground ... Father and son break old habits and plant a tree to mark the start of the new year.
Seven stories as funny, joyous, poignant and memorable as Christmas should be.
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The first is that something led me to this book. My wife and I were in a book store before Christmas and the book shop had an ornate, turning staircase which I felt the need to walk up. At the top of the staircase was a table laid out with hardback copies of The Snow Garden which looked and felt beautiful. Oddly, I didn't buy the book right then as we were spending so much on presents, but when I got home I just felt the need to buy a copy on Amazon (which by the way was much cheaper - sorry, bookshop).
The second admission is that the first story made me cry and affected me for days after. As this is a book of short stories it was easy for me to pass the book to my wife and suggest she read the first story - then claim the book back again. She cried too.
The second story is so opposite to the first it can appear a let-down. But in fact it has deep meaning and is best read twice. I agree with one of the other reviewers that The Boxing Day Ball is the weakest but I will read it once more. The other stories (including the 'missing' story - in my copy I'll Be Home For Christmas is not listed in the contents, though it's there in the book) each carry a kind of moral for life and all are poignant in different ways. Parents whose children have grown up and adults with elderly parents will especially enjoy these stories for different reasons.
The hardback book which is quite small would make an ideal gift and now I've finished all the stories (weeks after Christmas) I plan to buy several copies to give as presents next Christmas. I don't think you could go far wrong.
Rachael Joyce, is able to draw you into other peoples stories, so you find yourself caring about someone who could very easily be your neighbour, living an ordinary life, then we leave them to live their lives as our focus is drawn to another story... Reading the book during the run up to Christmas helps... I enjoyed it would recommend the book...