Title: Christmas by the Book
Author: Anne Marie Ryan
Publication: October 12, 2021
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Son
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
Nora and her husband, Simon, have run the beautiful oak-beamed book shop in their small British village for thirty years. But times are tough and the shop is under threat of closure–this Christmas season will really decide their fate. When an elderly man visits the store and buys the one book they’ve never been able to sell, saying it’s the perfect gift for his sick grandson, it gives Nora an idea. She and Simon will send out books to those feeling down this Christmas. Maybe they can’t save their bookstore, but at least they’ll have one final chance to lift people’s spirits through the power of reading.
After gathering nominations online, Nora and Simon quietly deliver books to six residents of the village in need of some festive cheer, including a single dad of twins who is working hard to make ends meet, a teenage boy grieving for his big sister, a local Member of Parliament who is battling depression, and a teacher who’s newly retired and living on her own. As the town prepares for a white Christmas, the books begin to give the recipients hope, one by one. But with the future of the bookshop still up in the air, Nora and Simon will need a Christmas miracle–or perhaps a little help from the people whose lives they’ve touched–to find a happy ending of their own….
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
My book club was eagerly asking me for something light and fun for the holidays, so after browsing many Christmas themed books, Christmas by the Book was added to the list and then quickly voted on by the club. So here I am reading a “typical” Christmas book… or so I thought.
Right off the bat I loved the setting. Do you remember the book store in You’ve Got Mail? The little private one that gets shut down? That’s what I pictured the minute I started reading and instantly felt at home. Bookstores are my happy place and I would have spent endless hours in Nora and Simon’s shop. Picture perfect in my mind. It was quickly apparent this was going to be a story where lots was going wrong, but something was inevitably going to make everything turn out good in the end. I guess I could call it predictable, but I wouldn’t say it was a bad thing. Yes, I knew it was going to end happy… but the journey to get there was so much more than I was expecting.
This book is in large part about Simon and Nora and their family and their issues, but the supporting characters in this book are EVERYTHING! I just loved all the different personalities we got to meet and how they continued to grow as we watched. I loved how Ryan wrote the characters to be just your every day people that I could personally tie people in my own life too. I really liked that this wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. These were everyday people with real life problems. Ryan touched on some hard hitting topics like depression, loneliness, single parenting, divorce, financial issues, and just having a stagnant life. Not the happy topics you think when you are picking up a cheerful holiday book. However, these issues made this book that much better and that much more relatable. Ryan jumped around to different characters just enough to let the story flow seamlessly so you knew what was happening in the surrounding, but mainly stayed on Simon and Nora, which I loved.
I could sit here and talk about this book over and over, but in general I loved the message it sent. That just when you think life is at it’s worst or that it won’t get better, remember that someone, somewhere cares. And most importantly, books are more than just something to pass time. They can change or alter lives and help people escape when needed. I loved this message and I hope, this holiday when someone might be feeling down or sad or just in the dumps, that Christmas by the Book can do what all those books did for the characters in the story. Christmas by the Book was so much more than just a Christmas story. An absolute must read to learn to re-appreciate everything you already have. I will be checking out more of Anne Marie Ryan’s books and hoping for more equally impactful messages tucked in the pages.