An Off – Piste Christmas by Julie Houston
Publishing Date: 1st November 2016
Source: Received from the Author in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 127
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Homour
Buy the Book: Kindle
From the author of #1 Humour Bestsellers GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME, THE ONE SAVING GRACE and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a brand new festive novella to make you laugh and warm your heart…
The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace’s, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.
Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces’ class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town… But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles…
“An Off – Piste Christmas” is my first book by Julie Houston but I was immediately drawn to this cover and the description made me hope that it’s going to help me to leave the actual reading slump behind. As previously I didn’t know much about this book, I also didn’t know that this is a second novella featuring the Westmoreland family, however through many hints I started to guessing it. But you can absolutely read it as a stand – alone novel, as there are enough flashbacks and the author gives enough information for the new reader to know that and what happened in the past. However, now my curiosity is piqued and I will be for sure reading the previous novels in the closest future!
My biggest problem was the number of characters. Honestly, to the end of the book I wasn’t sure who is who, why and with whom they are together. It was confusing and I hoped that there comes a moment I’ll see the light bull over my head but sadly, it didn’t happen and eventually I stopped trying with the characters. It spoiled the reading a bit to be honest. As it took me almost till the end to unravel who is related to who, to be honest, so maybe a short introduction at the beginning of the story wouldn’t go amiss. Also, the very complex and complicated nature of the relationships with a daughter dating the main character’s best friend’s ex – lover and father of her baby, and all of them going together on a fancy skiing holiday, even though the main character hates skiing… It was too much for me, to be honest.
At first the story felt too slow, maybe because of the millions of characters being introduced, but then it often felt too rushed and the things were happening so conveniently, and also I personally am not sure if bringing back dead characters to life is such a good idea – it didn’t sit with me and this subplot felt much, much, much too far – fetched for my liking. However, “An Off – Piste Christmas” was a very light read, and it made me chuckle and smile. I also immediately fell in love with Julie Houston’s writing style, that is not only full of humour but it’s so easy to follow, it’s light, warm and – let’s forget about the number of characters for a moment – I immediately felt at home. The millions of characters are likeable and believable, with their flaws, problems and interactions, and with so many of them there are many mishaps, misunderstandings and also bitching involved. The story is full of really funny scenes, and only the idea of going on the ski – holiday when you’re scared of heights and hate skiing is a hilarious one, but it is also full of much more emotional moments and it touches upon some sensible issues, and this is all perfectly mixed.
Altogether, it is a short, funny and light novella taking place in a beautiful setting, full of snow and mouth – watering descriptions of food. It’s fluffy and quick read and I personally enjoyed it with the few twists, turns and curveballs.