I think The Art of Christmas is, quite possibly, the perfect Christmas story. For a start, unlike a lot of “Christmas” books, it is actually set at Christmas. The story starts just ten days before the big day, and continues until the twenty-fifth of December. There is snow. There is a Christmas tree. There are mince pies (sort of!) and even a mention of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – not to mention a rather leaky dog, wearing antlers. I’m not making this up, honestly. This book shouts Christmas and really gets you into the spirit of the occasion.
As if all that wasn’t enough, there is romance, a bit of a mystery, and several mentions of Doctor Who. No wonder I think it’s perfect! Seriously, the minute I started reading this, I was pulled into the life of the heroine, Harriet – a young widow, whose husband, Jonno, died unexpectedly around eighteen months previously. Harriet has decided that, this year, she will acknowledge Christmas, so we find her, at the start of the story, venturing into the loft to rescue the Christmas tree. Luckily for Harriet, she finds more than a Christmas tree up there. Stumbling across a pile of comic books she didn’t know her husband possessed, she takes them downstairs and, despite her lack of interest in the books that Jonno was so passionate about, she finds herself flicking through the pages.
Having sold most of her husband’s collection to a dealer the previous year, she calls him again, asking if he can price up this latest discovery. Kell remembers the fragile young widow and offers to come round to her house to take a look at them. Having struggled through a loss of his own, the two of them have an instant connection, and an easy rapport. But Kell also remembers Jonno, and a chance remark throws doubt on everything Harriet thought she knew. If she’s to have any kind of future, she has to find out the truth about her past, so, like Corinthia, the comic book heroine who bears a remarkable resemblance to her, Harriet gathers her courage, strides out into an uncertain world, and confronts the unknown.
The Art of Christmas is just gorgeous. Harriet’s grief is so beautifully described that I had a lump in my throat as I read. Kell is a fantastic hero – laid back and casual, decent and honest. I loved his relationship with his crazy dog, Frodo, his passion for and knowledge of comic books and their artists, his easy manner, his rather unexpected socks. Most of all, I loved the understanding and patience he shows Harriet.
This is just the book to read to get you in the mood for Christmas. If you’re feeling a bit “bah, humbug”, pick up this little gem of a book, and I guarantee you’ll be craving mince pies and egg nog before you reach the end. And looking forward to the Doctor Who special even more, of course! Merry Christmas!
You can buy The Art of Christmas here