A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby
Publishing Date: 3rd November 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Literature
A wonderful, heartwarming and funny Christmas novel from Chrissie Manby, perfect for curling up with in front of the fire.
What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true?
It’s the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.
But Kirsty soon learns that it’s not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there’s Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after… or reveal their love to be nothing but a ‘showmance’?
With Christmas just around the corner, it’s going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball.
“A Fairy Tale for Christmas” was one of my most anticipated reads this autumn – since reading the Proper Family series Chrissie Manby has catapulted herself to the very top of my favourite authors’ list and while I’m probably never going to recover from the fact that there won’t be any more books in this series (or maybe? Chrissie? Pretty, pretty pleaaaaaaase!), I’ve been impatiently waiting for any new book by this author. And when it arrived, in all it’s shiny, sparkly glory, I literally put everything aside and started reading it.
As a consolation to all of us who loved the Proper family just as much as I do, “A Fairy Tale for Christmas” follows the story of Kirsty – Kirsty, that we’ve already got to know in “A Proper Family Adventure”! She was the one who went on the same cruise as the Bensons and co. with her best friend Jane – so for me it was as if the Bensons were there in the story in spirit, even though there was no mention of them. However, with or without them, the book is of course a stand – alone, and it is a gorgeous, funny and touching story – all in one, and I was hooked from the very first page.
The story follows not only Kirsty and Jon but also all the characters that played in the panto “Cinderella”. There were a lot of them but to be honest it didn’t feel like this because they were so clearly drawn personalities, there was not a single confusion who is who and why, which doesn’t happen often when there is such a group of characters on the pages, but the author pulled it off totally! Their stories were so, so engaging, guys, and even though we could say they weren’t significant to the main subplot, I absolutely loved this diversion, they made the book even better in my eyes.
Now, the main characters, especially Kirsty. I think Kirsty is going to be a controversial character and when you read the book you’ll understand what I mean. I think you could love her or hate her, and I loved her. She was straightforward and she had a heart made of gold, she was friendly and she took care about other people. She was also naive and yes, seeing this what she didn’t see for so long annoyed me, but mostly I was annoyed with this second person for doing it and being so towards her. Kirsty was funny and I loved how sharp her replies were and how spot – on, in every situation she was able to throw a comment that had me in stitches.
And now to the male characters, Jon and Ben. They were like hot and cold, like summer and winter, like chalk and cheese and when Jon was introduced to us in a relatively positive way, the more I got to know him the more I disliked him, and believe me, rolling my eyes at him wasn’t enough, I wanted to punch him. Repeatedly. Focused only on himself, the golden boy, aarrrgh, Chrissie Manby has done a brilliant job in creating such an annoying character! I really hated him more and more, with every “hint” about Kirsty’s weight or her “big” feet, and yes, I wanted to shake Kirsty as well and tell her to wake up, but much, much more I wanted to shake Jon, no, take this back, I wanted to slap Jon or shush him somehow. Put a gag on this man. So self – obsessesed, egoistic, selfish guy – though he also had his moments, especially at the theatre and some of his comments were brilliant, especially his interaction with the children. Language, Jon!
And then we have Ben. Can I pretty please stop a moment at Ben to gush about him? It is this kind of guy that every mother would love to have as a son – in – law, you know, and probably every girl would love to have as a husband. He was a widower, raising his lovely and clumsy – but in a lovely, sweet way – daughter Thea and he did a great job, even if he himself doubted in his skills as a single father. He was laid – back, he worried so much about Thea but it turned out that Thea needed only a little push to unveil what it is that gives her a confidence, and I absolutely adored to watch this little girl coming out of her shell and grow confident and finding loyal friends. Really, the characters were imperfect, they were bickering, they had secrets, they also lied but it only made them so realistic in my eyes and I supported them all no matter what!
We have a kind of a love – triangle in the book, but not your typical one, when the characters know about it and enjoy it. It was a triangle that was not obvious but it was there and you’ve no idea how much I’ve kept my fingers crossed that it quickly turns out into a couple, but the other couple!
This book is full of friendship and community feeling and the author has so brilliantly captured all the nuances in the NEWTS group, the jibes, the likes and dislikes and the gossip, and it was just like in real life. The characters were jealous of each other but also supporting each other, especially Kirsty who really thought about everything and was concerned for everyone. The emotions run high in this story, with all the ups and downs and the characters’ adventures, there are tons of misunderstandings and jumping to conclusions and this is bloody brilliant and entertaining! I loved how under this lovely humour there lay other layers, more serious and the author wasn’t shy of writing about growing up, family misunderstandings, alcohol and weight problems, being insecure. The story was organized into very short chapters, which is my favourite way BTW, it makes the reading somehow easier and much more dynamic and quicker, the chapters don’t feel as if they are dragging on, no, they’re spot on, direct and well, yes, thanks to such chapters you can always say “only one chapter more” and actually read the book till the end without putting it down. And the storyline was not at all predictable. On the opposite, it was full of surprises, thanks to the lovely bunch of characters and their adventures, and it kept me on my toes, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what is expecting me there. It was a bouncy, lovely, warm read with a little drama, a lot of humour, a few emotional moments, casting unforgettable characters – all what I need from a book and much more. Highly, highly recommended!