Review: The Christmas List by Chrissie Manby

xmaslistI found this novella on Audible while traveling by myself last November and wanted something short and comforting.

Millie Arnold is a young British woman who works in an office, loves Christmas about as much as I do, and loves loves LOVES her man, Duncan.

Seeing as how she starts the book utterly in love, you can guess what happens.

Millie is dumped on November 29th, and the crushing depression (and hangover from Bailey’s and orange liqueur) threatens to ruin Advent. But for the sake of her young nephews, she attends their family December 1 lunch to write letters to Father Christmas with the boys. And wishes start to come true.

Think of it like The Monkey’s Paw, but Christmasy. The wishes are not fulfilled in the way that Millie intended. Nothing dire (well, no one comes back from the dead), but they still aren’t exactly what she wanted. For example, one of her first wishes is for flowers. A week later, three dozen red roses show up at her door. Delighted, she takes them, but finds that not only are they NOT from her ex-boyfriend, they’re not even for her; there’s another woman’s name, an apology, signed “John.” The deliveryman got the address wrong. She calls the florist who urges her to keep the roses since she’s already arranged them.

Later, the way some of the wishes are granted are still far from the realm of intent Millie wanted, even though with her second letter, she tried to word everything very carefully.

This could easily be a book that tanks because, frankly, Millie is a wretched whiner to start out with. But her character is deftly balanced by her doting, but cynical, older sister Cal, who comforts her without coddling her. The florist is an angry agent of fate, determined to fire her deliveryman and punish the guy who bought the roses “He had his secretary order them! Just said to send something appropriate! You keep the roses and I’ll send chrysanthemums and maybe his girlfriend will have another think about him.” Then she goes on a tangent about dogs. And then there is the charming and slightly dorky Mark Clark on the radio, a local DJ and minor celebrity that they listen to at the office.

It also helps that, with the aid of Duncan’s next door neighbor (“I don’t mean to be lookin it’s just that he hasn’t replaced the curtain rod that fell down six months ago!”) and her friend who professes to be psychic (although the one bit of information she had on Duncan came through gossip, not the stars,) Millie does begin to not only get over Duncan but also discover that their relationship wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Like A Christmas Kiss, this is actually a story about a woman learning her own self-worth first, and finding love second. The love story is pretty minor, coming only at the very end. The climax is surprisingly exciting for an otherwise mundane tale of a broken heart, and the story is set up quite deftly with plenty of foreshadowing.

Flaws: I’d actually prefer this longer. I’d like to see more of Millie’s transformation, and somehow more with the florist. She was a hoot. I actually have no idea how old anyone is, which threw me off a few times.

Ratings:
Stars: N/A (audiobook)
Storytelling: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Closeness to Christmas Carol: 0
Feminism: 5/5
Romance: 2/5 (this is rating quantity, not quality)
Is Christmas Saved?: Definitely
Number of British car names I didn’t recognize: 3
Random thoughts: This is a Kindle single, so you can get the ebook, but if you like audio I HIGHLY recommend the Audible version, as the narrator is excellent with her different accents.

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