The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is the second book from my London book haul that I read. Judging this book by the cover, you would be right to think of this as a Christmassy romance novel. Joanna Bolouri wrote a wonderfully delightful Christmas romance and the sarcastic tagline just says it all: “Christmas with the family… what’s not to love?!”.
Emily is nearing her forties, is settled in life with a nice car, an apartment with great roommates and a serious, stable relationship. She doesn’t have a very good relationship with her family and has only agreed under protest to take her boyfriend Robert home at Christmas. But then she finds out that Robert is married and she is actually happy to get way from the city and all the way back to her family in Ireland. She gets drunk and scared that her critical family will think she made the boyfriend up and because she doesn’t want to tell them what really happened, she asks her younger neighbour Evan to accompany her to her family’s Christmas party.
Obviously, tensions arise between Emily and Evan. Emily feels like under pressure from her family and is desperately trying to settle down. Evan is younger and with a different girlfriend every week, who he has very loud sex with right on the other side of Emily’s bedroom wall. So they don’t have a very good relationship at the start, let alone when they travel to Ireland together to convince her family he is her boyfriend. Nonetheless, they grow closer together. But their age difference, Emily’s own hang-ups and miscommunication don’t make it easier for them.
Throw this cocktail into a big Irish family that loves Christmas and loves each other, but can be quite critical of one another and try to cover up their own blemishes and mistakes, and you are in for an interesting read! The family is very close-knit and at the same time trying to save face not only to the outside but also to each other.
All of this makes for a sometimes complicated story combined with a love story and two main characters that can be sarcastic, funny and witty. I really enjoyed it and put the book down with a big smile on my face and feeling the Christmas spirit.
A definite recommendation for this Christmas season! Preferably with a fleece blanket and a cup of tea.