*This review contains spoliers*
So it’s been quite a while since I wrote a review for a book I’ve read, but during this Lockdown I’ve re-discovered my love of books and how to make more time for reading.
I’ve read quite a few novels over the last few weeks and I will be writing reviews for those that I’ve felt strongly about.
On that note I’m starting with The Gift, by Cecelia Ahern.
Where to start? Firstly, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I did not enjoy this Christmas story.
By all means, this opinion does not mean that it’s bad or poorly written. It’s actually very well written and concise in all the right places. But no amount of clever plot twists were able to detract from the fact that I disliked most of the characters and the character arc was just too little, too late (literally).
Ahern clearly had an agenda and a moral story to tell with this Christmas themed novel – but I felt the little references to Christmas that did feature were lack luster. Half the time I had forgotten that it was set at Christmas time, until another faint reference or scene crept in.
I’m not entirely sure if this apathy towards Christmas was meant to be reflective of the main character Lou – if so then it’s definitely fitting of the character and adds to the atmosphere. But as a reader, when I read any novel set at Christmas time I want to feel like it’s Christmas – even if it’s the middle of May (and I’m definitely not driving home for a while). I’m not saying that all novels set at Christmas need to be chocolate box village Christmas or even happy, but I do expect to at least feel like it’s Christmas when I’m reading it, regardless of the plot.
Of course it is testament to a good writer to make their reader feel strongly about their characters. By the time I was half way through reading The Gift I had very strong feelings about most of the characters. Not in a good way.
I had hoped that the developing character arc of the main character Lou would draw me towards him, and I would find some redeemable qualities in him, and maybe even like him a bit by the end. Sadly I felt the complete opposite. I was glad to have reached the end; and maybe others will be able to find those elusive redeemable qualities, but I was so disappointed and frustrated. The lessons he learns too late and tragedy at the end were just too much of dampener.
Why have such a strong moral case to your plot if the lesson is going to be swallowed up by the events, to the point where it has to be spelled out in the final chapter? It may have been for the benefit of a younger minor character, but I couldn’t escape the feeling it needed to spelled out a little bit for me too.
There are some delightfully clever quips and scenes within The Gift. Unfortunately this is one book I won’t be recommending to my friends and family – for the simple reason that this is not want I want from a Christmas story.
Yes I know it might be a cliche, and I said that not all Christmas stories have to be happy – but for me I do want more happiness than sadness or tragedy. I want to feel Christmas running through the entire plot and I want to be excited to be making my present list for those I love.
So there you have it. I do hope you give it go, and make you’re own minds up about what a Christmas story should be for you