Another Christmas guest review by my big sis, Mandie (@mgriffiths163). This time she reviewed ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ by Joanna Bolouri. Here’s what she thought.
The Official Book Blurb
Thirty-eight year old Emily has a satisfying job, fab friends, an amazing car and, most importantly, a wonderful flat, exactly 411 miles away from the judgemental, batshit crazy, interfering family she reluctantly sees twice a year. In fact, the only minor stress in her life is her twenty-something neighbour Evan and his penchant for flirting, loud music and even louder sex . . . but he’s nothing she can’t handle.
Emily also has a boyfriend called Robert and it’s going really well. So well, in fact, that this year Emily is hoping to take him home for Christmas to meet her family. Finally she won’t be subject to five days of nosy questions from her parents and pity looks from her younger married siblings.
But when Robert breaks up with her a week before Christmas, Emily is gutted. How on earth is she going to face her family now? Enlisting the help of party boy Evan (in exchange for one month’s rent and the use of her convertible) Emily is determined to take Robert home for Christmas come hell or high water, even if it isn’t the real Robert . . .
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year introduces you to Emily, a 38 year old teacher living in London. On the face of it she has a good life – a nice home, great friends, a job she enjoys, the perfect boyfriend and most importantly of all to her…..she lives a long way away from her bonkers family. The only downside to this life is Evan her annoying next door neighbour whose loud girlfriends and even louder music disturb her sleep on a regular basis.
The story revolves around the annual 4 day return home to Scotland for a family Christmas. Every year Emily (the only unmarried child) is subjected to constant questions from her parents and siblings about when is she going to find a nice man and settle down (and maybe move closer to home). This year will be different…. this year she has Richard, the man she has been seeing for the past 8 months who until now she has kept a secret from her family. That is until she finds out that he is already married and will be spending time with his family.
Rather than admit another relationship failure to her family she comes up with a drunken plan to get next door neighbour Evan to pretend to be Robert.
Once they get to Melrose where Emily’s family live the real fun starts. They all like to pick on Emily and tease her about the age difference between her and Robert(Evan). They like to drink and party and over the course of the 4 days you see Emily warming to Evan and change her initial opinion of him. Everything is going just great until the real Robert turns up to tell Emily he has left his family for her. This leads to other family secrets being revealed and Emily making the decision to take control of her life and stop living it like she did in her twenties when she first moved to London.
Despite the fact that I am not a big one for Christmas and all they chaos that follows in its wake I found this quite an enjoyable book to read There were elements of the 4 day Christmas celebrations that reminded me of my childhood. We seemed to celebrate from 25th – 27th December when finally all the food would have been eaten and rather a lot of alcohol was consumed (there seemed to be different sorts for each course), followed by the odd family argument and the unofficial game we played of who could manage to be the last one up after the afternoon nap (and therefore didn’t have to prepare the evening buffet).
Despite Emily’s biased opinion of her family I found myself liking them, from judgmental Mum & Dad (who also seem to have no boundaries) to the twins Iona and Patrick who seem like chalk and cheese and not forgetting Pacino the dog. Then there is Evan….the guy who proves the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
There are times you may want to tell Emily to stop moaning, slap selfish Richard or even tell Emily’s family to get off her case but to me it depicts family life…with the added stress of Christmas thrown in.
If you are looking for a good read to get you in the Christmas spirit then I recommend you read this book.
I give this book 4 stars.
I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher Quercus for a copy of this book. It is available to purchase here: