Tag Archives: Milly Johnson

Writing in the Sand about Favourite Christmas Novels 4 …

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This week I’ve been re-reading Milly Johnson’s 2012 Christmas themed novel, A Winter Flame.

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Published by Simon & Schuster, it’s the story of Eve Douglas, who’s never been fond of Christmas, but who has hated it, since her fiancé was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day.

Imagine Eve’s surprise and dismay, when her beloved aunt leaves her half of Winterworld, a Christmas theme park she was in the process of creating, in her will. Her dismay deepens, when she  meets the man who’s inherited the other half, the mysterious, annoying, too charming, Jacques Glace.

Although she hates Christmas, Eve has never been one to back away from a challenge. The last thing she wants, however, is to have to work alongside this stranger she believes has wormed his way into her aunt’s will. Her suspicions grow about who he really is and she determines to show him up for the con-man he must be. Then she can take over and finish the plans for the park on her own and run it the way she thinks it should be run – more winter than Christmas.

But Eve didn’t bank on falling ill with a debilitating attack of shingles. While she is incapacitated, Jacques gets on with organising a much more Christmassy park than Eve wants and some hilarious arguments take place. Even more determined to get rid of him, she finds herself with the unexpected opportunity to have a snoop around his home, where she believes she might have finally found evidence of his criminal ways …

There’s a supporting cast of wonderfully vibrant characters – Loved-up Violet and Pav  featured in the earlier novel, White Wedding. Phoebe May Tinker is Eve’s delightfully entertaining little niece. Effin Williams is the rough and ready foreman with a heart of gold, who swears his head off in Welsh at the band of Welsh and Polish workmen.

And then there’s the flame itself – a candle which her fiancé had bought her before leaving for Afghanistan, telling her that as long as it burned, she was his and he was hers. Eve has kept the flame of that candle and its replacements burning continuously for five years.

But five years is a long time. Is it now time for Eve’s frozen heart to melt? And could Jacques be the man to melt it ?

I’m posting this a few days early, this week, as I might not be anywhere near a computer on Sunday. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed re-reading some of my favourite Christmas novels, in the run up to the big day. Now let’s see what books Santa brings …

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and Happy New Year!

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Writing in the Sand about Favourite Christmas Novels 3 …

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When Carole Matthews chose John Grisham‘s novella Skipping Christmas for this blog, she inadvertently opened up a new experience for me … using an e-reader!

I hesitate to call myself a Luddite, I don’t actually have anything against hi-tech progress – I just take a while to catch up with it! Anyone who’s met me will know I’d be perfectly happy with a quill, some parchment and a stubby candle to read and write by. Oh, and some sealing wax and maybe a delivery page-boy or a carrier pigeon or two …

Anyway, I couldn’t find a copy of Skipping Christmas in any of Dubai‘s few remaining bookshops (I won’t get started on that particular gripe of mine, or I’ll never get to the subject in hand!) So my husband kindly downloaded it onto his iPad for me.

Am I the only person who get’s bleary-eyed using an e-reader? It wasn’t a pleasant sensation and although I know I’ll have to cave in and get one sooner or later, I’m in no hurry. Anyway, somebody’s got to keep the bookshops here in business …

What can I say about Skipping Christmas? It’s the story of tax accountant, Luther Krank, and his bright idea of opting out of Christmas, because his daughter won’t be there for the first time and he’s sick of all the money Christmas is costing him. Personally, I’d call that grounds for divorce, but he manages to talk his reluctant wife into his daft scheme to go on a cruise, for half the amount they spent on Christmas the year before.

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The Kranks live in in a claustrophobic (to my mind anyway) community, where everybody knows everybody else’s business. Instead of letting the Kranks just get on with it, the neighbours conspire to make things as awkward as possible for them. There’s plenty to go wrong in the run up to their cruise departure on Christmas day itself.

It all gets a bit slapstick and a bit predictable, to be honest, as apparently does the film which was made of it, Christmas with the Kranks. But I did quite like the little twist at the end.

John Grisham didn’t reply to any of my requests to find out his favourite Christmas read, so my next post will feature another favourite of mine, Milly Johnson’s A Winter Flame. I’m reading it for the second time and enjoying it as much as I did the first …