The Christmas Surprise (by Jenny Colgan)

I like Jenny Colgan’s books, so I did not hesitate when asking if I could have this to review for the Bookbag site. This particular one is third in a series about a young woman called Rosie Hopkins. She lives in a small village in Derbyshire with Stephen, and runs a sweetshop.

While each book stands alone (this comes with a helpful summary at the start) 'The Christmas Surprise' picks up where ‘Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams’ finished, and takes us through another year.

Rosie and Stephen start the year on a high, then tragedy strikes, and the rest of the year includes an unexpected trip abroad and a new experience which is to change Rosie and Stephen’s lives forever.

There are depths to this book which I was not expecting, and some very moving scenes. While many of the minor characters are somewhat caricatured it means they’re easy to remember. Rosie and Stephen are more believable and I found myself relating well to them both.

The ending is perhaps rather too tidy, involving someone behaving rather out-of-character. I liked it a lot, but it did feel a bit forced, as if the author was tying up a lot of loose ends in a happy-ever-after fashion.
At the end there are a few Christmas recipes, which made a nice extra feature.

My one gripe with the book is the amount of bad language. The occasional expletive doesn’t worry me, but there was more than I’m comfortable with. This means I’m less likely to recommend this to some of my friends who would otherwise have enjoyed it.

The writing is informal, well-paced and with a good amount of conversation. I found it an easy read, ideal for the run-up to Christmas, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a light but thought-provoking novel.

Available in Kindle form as well as print.

You can also read my longer review of 'The Christmas Surprise' at the Bookbag site.

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