… intricate scenes in luminous detail …

For anyone who finds this format hard work and frustrating (like me), I urge you to try this collection of interlinked stories based very loosely around the theme of Christmas.  They remind me of still life paintings:  intricate scenes in vivid colour, with luminous details of bittersweet comedy and truth.



Rachel paints seven turning points in domestic lives with characters and circumstances that linger long after the reading: a couple assembling a bike on Christmas Eve; the unlikely airport Nativity; a Boxing Day dance; a celebrity homecoming; the divorced father with his sons; a search for meaning amongst cleaning products; and tree planting on New Year’s Eve.  They are beautifully crafted with a wonderful humanity and very easy to sink into … Highly recommended.

Rachel Joyce is the author of (amongst others) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.  She is the writer of over 30 afternoon plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4.

The collection was reviewed in the Observer yesterday  so click through if you wish to read more and the paperback version was published on 3rd November 2016 by Black Swan, an imprint of Penguin Books.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any details on the cover designer; I thought the snowflake motif works extremely well, better than the hardback design.

I was given this book as part of my Facebook Book Chain whereby I gave a book to a stranger and friends of friends of mine are giving books to me.  A brilliant idea.  I would never have picked up this book myself.