Christmas at the Vicarage by Rebecca Boxall
Book review by GJ Williams
This seemed the perfect gift for a cold Christmas in front of the fire with a large sherry and a pair of cosy slippers.
On her website, Rebecca Boxall is quite clear about the fact that this is not an edgy novel and she is trying to create the cosiness of an English country Christmas – a book you can curl up with holding a glass of wine in the company of a friendly, purring cat. This book is designed to give you that “huggie” feeling. Amazon reviews range from the ‘loved it and couldn’t put it down brigade to some who hated it. That said, I think the reviews comparing the writing to Rosamunde Pilcher are going a little far in their praise.
Christmas at the Vicarage takes us through the story of Rosamunde who returns to her childhood home and village of Thatchley after fifteen years away. She steps into her home, a thatched vicarage complete with creaky stairs, Aga, friendly cat and loving father (the vicar) and begins an emotional journey which takes us up to Christmas Day.
On the positive side, there are certainly a range of characters, though nobody is unpleasant and you are moved around timeframes to build up Rosamunde’s sad past and reason for moving away from the place she loved so much. In the present you also follow her journey into finding unlikely love at last and starting a wonderful new future. Nothing really nasty happens in Christmas at the Vicarage and so, it is indeed, a cosy read.
That said, this is a marmite book. So if you are one for lovable characters, warm scenes, improbable story lines including falling for the only gay in the village (even that has a positive outcome!) with a very high dosage of adverbs, jolly scenes of laughing families and happy endings all washed down with lashings of champagne this is for you. Even the worst of human tragedies are given only a paragraph and Rosamunde seems to bounce back with the energy and speed of a powerball. If you are irritated by adverbs, a lot of telling not showing – at times you are even told what the dog and cat are feeling – and the inevitable happy ever after for every couple and their pets, then you will be throwing it on your cosy Christmas fire.
Rating.Amazon shows that this book has 75% of reviewers rating this book 4 or 5 out of five and it hit top of the Kindle list. The G.J Williams rating is 3 because the adverbs and over telling of what people were thinking and feeling annoyed her (a personal style) and the jolliness plus perfect endings kicked off her bah-humbug side.
About the author
Rebecca Boxall is an English writer, born in Sussex but now living in Jersey. She draws on her early years of growing up in a vicarage before she went on to complete a degree in and training as a lawyer. Christmas at the Vicarage is her first novel, at first self-published and then taken up by an American Publishing House. Her second novel Home for Winterwas published in October 2016. The Sassistas give her high praise for donating a good percentage of her profits to charities. The books are available on Kindle or in paperback at your local independent book seller.