Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2021
What’s Christmas without a Sarah Morgan novel?! And I’m so glad I had the opportunity to review this latest from the queen of heartwarming stories.
Christy has the perfect Christmas all planned out: a trip to Lapland with her husband Seb, daughter Holly, and best friend Alix. However, when Christy finds her marriage threatened, she decides to send Holly with Alix to Lapland and planned, and then follow on with Seb a few days later, hopefully with marriage intact. From Alix’s point of view, she’s nervous about being a good guardian to Holly — and about Zac, Seb’s best friend and someone with whom she has a troubled history, who is also coming along at the last minute. Then there’s the added tension that Christy’s estranged aunt, Robyn, owns the Lapland resort where they’re all due to stay, and some secrets just need airing…
The narrative splits between Christy and Seb in London, and Alix, Zac, and Holly in Lapland. All of this takes place in the few days before Christmas and over the holiday itself, which is always a time for sentimentality and nostalgia. It’s also a time which some people find difficult, and so poignant heartbreak and old wounds can rise to the surface.
Deftly balancing all the action and emotions of her cast, Morgan weaves her usual festive spell over the reader: here is the winter joy which lifts the soul, the spirit of the season which soothes suffering and wraps you in a much-needed hug, the awe and wonder of snow and family, whether by blood or found through experience and love.
Having read many Sarah Morgan novels before, I did notice the re-use of a plot device here and there, but on the whole these didn’t detract from the story or my enjoyment of The Christmas Escape. I should know by now that while Morgan is an expert at giving us these heartfelt family dramas and love stories, she is also adroit at breaking the reader’s heart, and challenging their own experiences even as her words gather us up and sew us back together again. So it was with The Christmas Escape, which — due to personal reasons — I found extremely challenging in places, and which had me bawling long before the final scene. This is definitely a novel to read with the Kleenex handy.
That said, the plotting and pacing were excellent and there was an overwhelmingly grounded and magical sense of place, whether in the English countryside, London, New York, or Lapland. I loved the very realistic portrayal of family and friendship — the events and experiences, large or small, which can tie us together or serve to drive us apart — and how miscommunication and assumptions can just make things thornier. I found this book to be a beautiful (if challenging) read, and I loved being back in the magic and wonder of Sarah Morgan’s Christmas novels; it’s actually become one of my favourites already, with my physical copy now on the way. Highly, highly recommended.
I received an e-ARC from the publisher, HQ, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Furthermore, in the interests of transparency, I know the author via Facebook.