The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Joanna Bolouri
Genre: women’s fiction, Romance
I was so looking forward to this, I Loved Joanna’s the List, but sadly this one wasn’t a great read for me.
The problem was Emily. When we first meet her she’s a moaner, no…not that way, she’s not like Evan’s ladies ;-). She moans about her life, her flatmates bad habits, her family, her boyfriend and most of all she moans about poor Evan, who’s only crime is noisy sex! Why can’t she just ask the guy to keep it down instead of alternately blanking and ranting at him?
From the description she didn’t sound at all like this, and as we got to know her better I kind of understood why she was this way, but still wanted to slap her at times and say “ don’t be so obnoxious.”
She’s pretty rude to many people – especially Evan, and he’s such a nice guy.
He was exactly as I’d imagined from the description, someone with a real joie de vivre, someone who loves life, is kind, happy, helpful. He and Emily are like oil and water at first, and she just rebuffs all and every approach with rudeness. No wonder he doesn’t like her, I didn’t either, and yet when she’s stuck without a boyfriend to fend off her family, and he can see it really troubles her, that she’s quite vulnerable and insecure under that brash front, he helps her. What’s that phrase? “You’re a better man than me Gunga Din”
The way she’s been he couldn’t be blamed if he said tough luck, you reap what you sow. He doesn’t though, the caring guy he is – with what seems to be a hidden crush on Emily – offers to play the part of Robert, the scumbag ex.
The book really gets going from the journey to Scotland onwards, and once they meet the family there’s some real laugh out loud moments, though there’s also many that feel very forced too – a trying too hard vibe, where I felt I was being spoon-fed tired lines and told “laugh, dammit”.
Underneath all that humour though, under the family’s bonhomie there’s some real issues that affect lots of families, and when it all explodes its – well, a real bombshell with so much coming out, so much to show Emily that she’s so wrong about all her thoughts, about how the family see her, how she sees them and their lives. It was pretty emotional.
Then its back home to London, and of course Emily needs to take on board all the events, rethink her life and lifestyle. What about Evan, he had some pretty stupendous news too, but that part of his life seemed to get flashed over.
Oddly apart from a few age jokes from the family, “friendly” taunts about Cougar etc the age gap really doesn’t mean much, and I kept forgetting there was that decade or so between them. As it should, age shouldn’t really come into love, no more than sex, race, religion etc – take love where you find it, its a rare commodity.
Back in London Emily was still kind of abrupt at times but she’d mellowed in Scotland, let Evan see another side to her, the side he’d thought was there,and a bit of that stuck.
She’s still feeling rejected by Robert, confused about her family, wondering whether London is really right for her and muddled about her feelings for Evan.
I did feel after the way the main 80% of the book covered the Christmas holiday that the end part got cut too short, that I wanted a bit more of it and TBH the actual ending felt really, really truncated.
Its a book I’m sure many will love, and if I’d liked Emily more earlier and the ending was a little expanded, it could have been a five star read for me too but its not, for me its a read but forget book, and proof that loving one story by an author doesn’t mean you’ll love everything they write – or conversely disliking one doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try more.
Books are as individual as reading tastes and each one has a different feel even when written by the same author.
Stars: two and a half – I liked the idea, enjoyed some of the humour but overall Emily’s character and that abrupt end made it a no go for me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher