Review: The Christmas Surprise by Jenny Colgan (4/5)

Tuesday 11 November 2014
There will be more than one surprise in store for sweetshop owner Rosie Hopkins this Christmas, in the brand new novel by Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan

Includes mouth-watering recipes

Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little sweetshop she owns and runs. But when fate strikes Rosie and her boyfriend, Stephen, a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it's going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their Lipton friends to hold them together.

After all, don't they say it takes a village to raise a child?

Treat yourself and your friends to Jenny Colgan's heartwarming new novel this Christmas.

I am just in love with Rosie Hopkins and the village of Lipton, so I was extremely excited when I found out that Jenny Colgan's Christmas release would be a new Rosie Hopkins novel. I did wonder where she was going to take the story this time around, however. After the events of the previous book Rosie and Stephen deserve a bit of down time, some time to relax and spend a perfect Christmas together. Right? Wrong! Jenny has once again written a book that in places left me speechless and in others almost had me giving myself a paper cut as I tore through the pages. You think you have an idea of where the story is going and then Jenny completely proves you wrong.

As its November I'm looking at reading some proper Christmas reads. The last couple I've read have had a festive title and blurb but a story that could be read at any time of the year. I'd say that this book could definitely be read at any time of the year but it does have that festive feel that really left me excited for the run up to Christmas and Christmas Day itself. The scenes in and around Christmas in this book are just perfect, especially with the setting of Lipton which is somewhere I would just love to visit or live. I got my hot water bottle, got into bed with this book and just devoured it. And then I was gutted when I finished it.

Rosie and Stephen are still recovering from the events of the previous book, which is mentioned in an opening Introduction which sets the scene for new and returning readers (however if you haven't read the first two books in this series, I urge you to do so because they are fantastic). The book opens on what I feel is the worst part of Christmas, that bit in between Boxing Day and New Year which is a week I just hate. Rosie finds herself constantly being violently sick (yes, this means what you think it means). I then settled myself in for an eventful read but was gobsmacked with what occurred only a few chapters later. I wasn't expecting the story to go where it did, and we soon see Rosie and Stephen leaving Lipton, albeit briefly. Are they using that plane ticket her mother gave them to Australia? Or do we see them jetting off elsewhere? Read to find out, but it is definitely eventful and in places quite emotional.

It was the last peaceful moment Rosie was to know for a long time, for the tinsel was gone, the joyful lights had been put away and the Christmas bells had ceased to chime. A dark door had somewhere slammed open, and a cold, desolate wind was beginning to blow.

The book does have some wonderfully eccentric characters that you could definitely see existing in a village like Lipton. Especially Edison, a local child with strange parents who in the previous book had a bit of a starring role and in this book is still recovering from the dramatic events. It also has realistic and believable characters. The relationship between Rosie and Stephen is lovely, yet it isn't perfect all of the time which is true of all relationships. Yet the arguments and problems that they have throughout the book only serve to bring them closer. As does the coldness and animosity they receive from Stephen's snobbish mother who really outdoes herself in this book in terms of nastiness and selfishness. Stephen's sister Pamela also makes a return to the village, bringing with her a whole load of chaos and completely messing up the plans of Rosie and Stephen. The local dentist and nemesis of Rosie's, Roy Blaine is back and ready to play a little bit of a starring role later in the novel. Tina and Jake are also planning their wedding, but disaster soon strikes putting the whole thing at risk. To say the book is eventful would be an understatement.

I've read a few comments saying that the book is a little predictable, but I actually found it a little unpredictable in places. Yes you might have an idea of where the story is going to go eventually, and that's a comforting thought whilst reading, but Jenny still takes the reader around many roundabouts before we get to that point and there's so many surprising moments that I just didn't see coming which makes it more of an enjoyable read than when you can predict every single thing that is going to happen. With a book like this you expect a perfect ending and we got that here. It also ended on a bit of a cliffhanger which means there has to be another Rosie Hopkins book in the future? The story of Rosie and Stephen is still not complete and we just have to return to Lipton in the future. Next Christmas?! Either way this book is ideal reading this Christmas for fans of Rosie Hopkins but also those new to the world as well

I'm finding it really hard to discuss the book without giving away major plot details but what I particularly like about Jenny's books is that on the outside they often appear to be the type of chick lit where the story is perfect from start to finish, almost bittersweet you could say from their covers yet the story within is often completely different. Whilst the characters often do get their happy ever after, it doesn't come until they have faced numerous issues along the way. Of all the Christmas books out there at the minute this is one that I'd definitely reccommend over the lot of them. It has everything you could want from a book set around Christmastime, wonderful characters, a beautiful story and an ending that really is just perfect. Don't miss this one if you can help it!

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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