12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour
It’s the most wonderful time of the year & I’m thrilled to be spreading some Christmas cheer in book form. So on the 5th day of Christmas, I introduce you to Sally Nicholls, an author whose following two books are for me, synonymous with the festive season. I invite you to step back in time to Christmas past…
Great Ceasar! Christmas simply is the jolliest time of year! Holly, Ivy, ice-skating… candles & carols… hold onto your hat-pins, buckle up those bustles & tighten those tweed knickerbockers for some rip-roaring Victorian Christmas capers. I’ll wager you a plum pudding that you won’t be able to resist these fun, festive frolics.
This is the second book in the ‘In Time’ series with ‘A Chase in Time’ being the first installment. If you haven’t read the first book, you are brought quickly up to speed about the magical mirror in Aunt Joanna’s house that allows the children to travel back in time. No time (excuse the pun!) Is wasted & you are swiftly pulled into the adventure within the first few pages.
Alex & Ruby Pilgrim have come to spend Christmas at their Aunt Joanna’s bed & breakfast. The imposing Applecott House has been in the Pilgrim family for over 200 years & Alex & Ruby’s grandparents, great parents & other distant relatives (some of whom they met on the previous adventure) lived there.
Whilst trimming up the house for the seasonal guests, Alex & Ruby glance the reflection of a woman in a shawl & big, old-fashioned skirts in the magical mirror. All of a sudden, the woman reaches forwards and pulls the children through the looking glass & into a glorious Victorian Christmas.
It’s the day before Christmas Eve 1872 & Marian Pilgrim welcomes Alex & Ruby into to her chaotic, rough & ready family. They soon befriend her brood: Harold, Wallace, Aquilla, Noel & dog Bunyan.
Poor lttle wretch cousin Edith has also come to stay, but only until Boxing Day, before Uncle Elijah ships her off to Scotsborough, a cruel boarding school where children are said to be more likely to graduate by the grave than the front door. Can the children show Uncle Elijah the magic of Christmas & persuade him to change his mind?
I say! I thoroughly enjoyed the Victorian colloquial language throughout, especially the insults! For children studying the Victorian era, there’s plenty of Victorian details in the book to bring this period in history to life. Alongside Alex & Ruby, we experience the food (not sure about the kedgeree & kippers!) The clothes, the cold & of course…the toilets!
But at the centre of the Victorian seasonal shenannegins is a heartwarming story of the innocence of childhood. The lengths the children go to, in order to save poor little cousin Edith from being banished to boarding school & bring joy to their grieving Uncle Elijah’s heart make this a festive feel-good read all round.
For a slightly older audience, Sally once again conjures up Christmas magic from a bygone era. The Silent Stars Go By is without a doubt a Christmas Classic; a bittersweet, totally unputdownable period drama of loss, love & longing.
It’s 1919 & Britain is returning to normal after WW1. Seventeen-year-old Margot Allan was a respectable vicar’s daughter & madly in love with her sweet-heart Harry. But when Harry marches off to war, her idylic life is shattered.
Harry is reported Missing in Action from the Western Front & soon after, Margot realises she is expecting his child. Keeping up appearances is vital & there is only one solution she & her family could think of in order to keep their respectability: give up James, her baby son, to be adopted by her parents & brought up as her younger brother.
Now two years later the whole family is gathering at the vicarage for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking for Margot being so close to James, unable to tell him who he really is. But on top of that, Harry is also back in the village. Released from captivity in Germany and recuperated from illness, he’s come home and wants answers. Why has Margot seemingly broken off their engagement and not replied to his letters?
Margot knows she owes him an explanation. But can she really tell him the truth about James?
This was an emotional & beautiful one-sitting read for me, I was utterly enchanted and the 240 pages just flew by effortlessly. I marvelled throughout at the consequences of having a child out of wedlock just over 100 years ago and how far society has come in that time. Harry is such a charismatic character & the tension Nicholls creates between he & Margot is palpable – all the way through the reader is left wondering ‘will they or won’t they!’ The Silent Stars Go By is a poignant period treat this Christmas.
So there we have it, two of my festive favourites that depict Christmas past perfectly.
Do follow along with the tour & visit the other stops for a range of Christmas reads to suit all ages & tastes.
Merry Books-Mas folks!