Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Being together is all that matters…”
This is definitely one of the most perfect festive books I’ve ever read. And, embarrassingly, my first Milly Johnson book, although I do have a handful of her books on my shelf just waiting to be read! As Milly is from my own home town, it had to be a good read… but it completely exceeded all my expectations! It will fill your heart with love, laughter and the magic of Christmas so much that it feels bonkers that Christmas hasn’t been and gone already. I was so obsessed with those few days I spent with these characters at a little inn in the middle of nowhere! I’m so happy to finally be sharing my review of this beautiful little Christmas gem 🎄
About the book
It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…
Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?
A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas.
From the very first moments of snow, I just knew this would be the cosy, Christmassy book I needed as we headed into December. I started reading the day before my weekend of decorating the house commenced which made it even more special. I bloody love Christmas! Getting to know a big bunch of characters was just what I needed, and every single one of them was filled with personality, with little quirks that brought them all to life. There was Bridge and Luke, a couple finalising their divorce. Charlie and Robin, a bickering older couple, but with a special relationship that made fun and laughter its priority. And then we have Jack and Mary, a man and his PA who is secretly in love with him and desperate for him to realise. Such different characters with different stories, but each one of them stuck in horrific, snowy conditions, desperate for the closest bit of shelter. They each head for Figgy Hollow with no clue as to what they might find there. I couldn’t wait to see what that was!
The description of Figgy Hollow was absolutely beautiful and it made me desperate to visit! The tiny details made everything perfectly clear and so easy to visualise, and I’m sure at one point I could actually smell potpourri… As each of the main characters made their way to this cosy little inn in the middle of nowhere, it was so nice to see how they introduced themselves and how they soon got comfortable with one another in each other’s presence. I loved how it felt like I too had found myself stranded in the snow, seeking shelter at Figgy Hollow. That I felt so involved in what was happening that I could have been sat around that fire with everyone else, coffee and mince pie in hand (even though it would more likely be a hot chocolate and a brownie for me…) I enjoyed the conversational tone and knew that I’d have got along with this group of characters if they were real life people. I just seemed to love everything about this book’s opening!
“It was written all over the woman’s face in emotional Sharpie what she thought about her boss. Jack must be blind if he didn’t see it.”
I really liked each of these characters, but I especially warmed to Mary. Her situation and how she feels about Jack (and has done in the years she’s worked for him) really grabbed me and I wanted to shake him! Look at what’s right in front of you! I could sense that their story would be the cutest of all and I only hoped I’d be right. The pacing of the book was slower than a lot of what I’ve read recently but I think it worked so well for the type of book it was. I needed something like this; such a cosy read that I didn’t need to rush through, a book that always left a smile on my face and made me think about life and the important things. Brilliant humour was injected in all the right places, and every time I picked up this book, I could guarantee myself that I’d have a giggle at a particular conversation between two characters or at what’s going on in a certain character’s head. It was genuinely so lovely up to now, such a feel-good book.
The air of sarcasm between Bridge and Luke was very entertaining, and the way they always tried to one up each other, the lengths they went to to try and get on the other’s nerves made for excellent reading! But was there something deep down? Old feelings resurfacing that neither of them wanted to admit? I also had a few questions building about Mary and Jack; I thought the time spent away from work would do Jack some good, and it seemed he was finally starting to relax after coming to terms with the fact that none of them would be leaving Figgy Hollow any time soon and he wouldn’t be able to work at all in this time. He begins to think about things in his past, about how he seemed to take Mary for granted as his PA, realising exactly how much she does for him and that he should be more thankful. He was learning more about her, and actually starting to laugh and joke with her like a friend. Please may this be the start of something beautiful! Only time would tell… a lovely opening to the book and I was so desperate to explore these characters’ lives in more detail!
All the characters in the book mingle and make time for one another. They speak to each other privately (for the most part) about their lives and their feelings, and the way they trust one another after only knowing each other for a couple of days really warmed my heart. There was a certain private conversation between Mary and Robin as they cook up a batch of mulled wine that tipped me over the edge, that made my eyes tear up, and the fact that these two almost-strangers could have a conversation like this and offer a shoulder to cry on seemed to restore my faith in humanity a little (even if it was fictional!) By this point, I didn’t really have a favourite character or pair of characters; each of them was so precious in their own way, each of them so intriging that I could read about them forever. Everything we learn just made me think about life in a different light and it really does highlight the things that are important, and what can wait. Now, who’s cutting onions?!
Getting ready for Christmas Day at Figgy Hollow was so exciting; everything from hunting around the inn to find small gifts for makeshift stockings to preparing a delicious Christmas feast filled me with joy and the magic of Christmas. It was truly wonderful. There were also really deep conversations about Bridge and Luke’s relationship (Bridge talking to Mary, Luke talking to Jack) and learning just how much they’d been through in their childhoods and throughout their relationship was a shock to the system. Part of me wanted the two of them to fall back in love. The other part of me thought it was best to part civilly, to perhaps remain friends and get on with their new lives. Whichever route they took, their time at the inn was sure to help them in making the right decision. In fact, I thought Figgy Hollow would have the same effect on all six of them, to help them in whatever decisions they had to make in their lives or simply accepting what life had handed them.
“I don’t much like the world as it is,” said Charlie. “There’s so much hate flying around. And that’s why I’m enjoying this glorious bubble so much, just us, new friends, and nothing but loveliness in the room.”
Each character’s Christmas gift was really thoughtful (minus one…but was there something better to come?) and my heart was filled with happiness to hear their reactions and just how much each present meant to the recipient. Robin’s gift to Charlie was the most important and perfect of them all; the chapter where he redeems this gift made me sob, made me want to see everyone I love and hug them for an eternity, telling them how much I love them. The emotion was tough to stomach, but I was amazed by how perfectly it was written, something I don’t think could ever be topped in my eyes. Throughout Christmas day, the author flawlessly captured the festive feel of togetherness and love, and it was so so perfect to read. It was strange remembering that it wasn’t quite Christmas day yet in the real world as I was so absorbed in this fictional one! The humour and happiness was so strong, so lovely, so memorable, like a real-life Christmas day.
There are so many memorable scenes throughout the book but one of my absolute favourites had to be the carol singing! After the six of them had finished tucking into their Christmas dinner, they decided to have a little friendly singing competition; they each stepped outside in twos, sung their little hearts out and were judged on their efforts. Not only was this hilarious, but each of the pairs had a short time alone, to take in their surroundings, to share some special moments. It was definitely these special moments that stuck with me. They were filled with hope, opportunity and love, and really helped to set the scene for the ending of the book, making me ask lots of questions about the characters’ futures. There was also that ‘will they, won’t they’ moment between two characters which was just pure perfection. I was so excited to hear what came next for these characters after their time at Figgy Hollow and knew they’d return home seeing the world differently.
As Christmas Day ended and Boxing Day began, I felt those same feelings as I do in real life; so content after spending the day with everyone I care about, but a little sad that it’s all over for another year. However, Boxing Day at Figgy Hollow was far from bland! Jack went above what I thought he was capable of at this point, despite it taking forever to get there. Who knew he could be a big old romantic?! There was also a big twist with one character, something I did not expect in the slightest, but something which could open up so many possibilities! Bridge and Charlie’s conversation was excellent here; Charlie definitely has a keen eye for when things aren’t quite what they seem, a very useful quality! Things were exciting and the pages were filled with a kind of gentle suspense which kept things so addictive until the end. I was still unsure about how the characters’ lives would change after their stay although I’m sure each of them would be happy to stay until next Christmas!
The changes in Mary as the days passed were some of the biggest of all the group as she agrees to an offer she can’t refuse. However, in doing so, she’d be leaving behind her comfort zone, her safe place, the thing that had given her so much, yet the thing that seemed to take her for granted, where she wasn’t appreciated as much as she should have been. I admired her bravery, and if she hadn’t found herself in Figgy Hollow with a bunch of strangers, I don’t think she’d have ever made this decision. She was absolutely right to take the leap into the unknown! Her feelings for Jack were still extremely complicated yet the author tackles this so well, writing Mary’s thoughts in such a clear and concise way. I just wished one of them would take a chance and explain their feelings! There wasn’t a lot of pages left in the book and I was getting concerned and panicky that they’d leave Figgy Hollow without expressing how they felt about each other!
“If there was one thing she’d come to know over the years it was was that life was about learning lessons and the things hardest to get were the most satisfying to own.”
I couldn’t quite believe the effect those goodbyes had on me. The Figgy Hollow Six leaving the inn for good after those truly perfect few days. I felt genuinely sad as they exchanged hugs and words of encouragement. But I knew they’d have such fond memories to look back on. The conversations they had. The laughter, the love, all of it. It was absolutely a Christmas to remember. Charlie’s goodbyes in particular hit me hard, eyes tearing up yet again by how wonderful this man was and how moved he’d been by the whole Figgy Hollow experience. I was glad many of my predictions for where these characters would end up were wrong, and I loved just how much meaning and how many lessons were tucked away in all the nooks and crannies. The book made me think from beginning to end and I love how these fictional characters taught me so much about how to live. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.
The author had so many more tricks up her sleeve to make the book’s ending so unique, so intriguing and so magical, and some of it had me thinking for days! There was such an upsetting scene which played out so clearly in my head and it still upsets me now just thinking of it, but it doesn’t half make the book feel even more important. Despite the sadness, it was nice to fast forward a few weeks and see these characters reunited, to see how some of them had changed their ways and to hear updates on their lives. After reading those final chapters, my heart was full. It still is from all the joy this book has given me. I loved the epilogue – we fast forward to the following Christmas and see just how much has changed for the better, answering many of my questions but also letting me think and dream about the futures of these characters. Oh it was all just bloody lovely! This book is absolutely one I’ll try and reread when the festive season comes around each year, and I’m confident it’ll give me as much enjoyment as my first read-through. Absolutely perfect!
If you need something to put you in the Christmas spirit, this book is it. It’s an absolute treat, a feel-good story about six people who are brought together thanks to the magic of the festive season (and an awful lot of snow.) The characters I met in this book were some of the most memorable I’ve ever come across, their stories effortlessly capturing my heart. It’s a slow-paced read with a big focus on character development, but the journey we go on was so compelling, so heart-wrenching, so magical, so emotional. I loved every second of it!
You can grab your own copy of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Milly Johnson over on Amazon, or literally anywhere you buy your books! Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for updates.
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