It’s three days before Christmas …
Tilly boards a plane on the other side of the world. She’s determined to reach Roone, a small island off the west coast of Ireland, in time for Christmas Day. Tilly carries a troubling secret and Laura, a woman she’s never met, might be the only one who can help her.
Except that Laura has no idea that Tilly exists. And with five children, a mother-in-law stranded on the island and a husband with whom she’s barely on speaking terms, an unexpected guest is the Christmas present she’s not expecting …
A storm is heading for the island, but will peace be restored before the snow melts?
Rating: 4 stars
Hmm. I love Christmas themed books. I love the joy and magic of the season. I love the sparkle. Any book with Christmas in the title had better bring me plenty of magic and sparkle. This book surprised me. There was a quiet undertone of magic and only the merest hint of low-key sparkle, but both were compensated for by the cosy glow of a warm, winter fireplace. Despite the reduction of my usual Christmas book loves, Roisin Meaney’s story stole in and warmed my heart, anyway. And it’s a tale suitable for not just Christmas, so a reader shouldn’t feel the need to confine it only to December.
The book is from a series but can easily be read as a stand alone with no problem at all – but possibly the lingering sense of “spoilers” already having been revealed for the earlier books for anyone reading them out of order. I have come away feeling as though diving into the previous books might be unnecessary now I know so much character history.
Roone, the fictional setting for the series, is an island off west coast of Ireland and is populated by fabulous small-town personalities and traditions. I certainly finished the book believing I could live there quite happily.
I’ll confess, for the first half of the book I couldn’t shake the feeling something awful was about to happen. I had a prickly sense of dread. And my suspension of disbelief was taxed almost to the limit at the fictional portrayal of Heathrow Airport security when a happy ending to an event was presented rather than the expected controlled explosion.
That said, 50% marked a a true turning point. The entire tone of the book changed as the two main characters, sisters whose stories had been told up until that moment in two separate narrative threads, were joined geographically and, in some ways, the real story started. Because of this, a lot of the first half felt like ‘set-up’ for the second half, which is a bit of a shame. Perhaps my unfamiliarity with the series had a bearing on that. Tenacity kept me going when I might otherwise have found something new to read in those earlier pages, though. It is definitely worth sticking with.
My earlier foreboding receded and hope returned in the latter half, I connected with both main characters more firmly, and I was even left wanting more in the very best way. The ending wasn’t a cliff-hanger – the characters journeys are seen through to their conclusion, but the ending is much more ‘happy for now’ than ‘happy ever after’, leaving me primed and ready for the next instalment and a return trip to Roone.
Because of the slower start, I have given I’ll Be Home For Christmas 4 stars. For anyone interested, it is a ‘clean’ read, but there are adult themes (life, death, long term illness, etc.) present in the book. There were also some formatting issues in my Kindle version that sometimes frustrated me and made the reading more challenging on occasion.
Over all, I would recommend this read and, indeed, the series.
I received this copy of I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Roisin Meaney from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.