Review By Veronica

Kindness and holiday cheer fill every page of Jenny Hale’s latest book, The Christmas Letters.

Favourite Quote:

“With his strong hand at her back, it made it difficult for Elizabeth to breathe as he moved her through the room with grace. The two of them glided between tables, the waitresses clapping when he spun her out and then back in. They nearly floated together, Paul turning her in circles whenever they found an empty space. 

He pulled her in again, his woodsy scent tickling her senses as he locked eyes with her, making her pulse quicken. In his arms, she felt incredibly vulnerable yet free at the same time, it was as if the intimacy of the dance had opened up something in her that had been closed off, making her feel again.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Elizabeth Holloway abandons her New York party at The Plaza, her sparkling world crashing down around her when her boyfriend of seven years drops the bomb that he’s leaving her—at Christmas. She suddenly finds herself seven hundred miles from her home in the city, trudging through the snow, back at her childhood farm in the Great Smoky Mountains in an attempt to piece her life back together.

However, she isn’t expecting to meet visitor Paul Dawson with his dazzlingly blue eyes and warm smile, chipping away at her resolve to focus on figuring out who she is and what she really wants in life.

When her mother is informed that they don’t actually own the farm that’s been in their family for generations, the news makes absolutely no sense to either of them. Nan had married Elizabeth’s grandfather at that house, and they’d lived out their years there.

But a stack of letters from Elizabeth’s grandmother will change everything she thought she knew about her family and cause a divide between her and Paul that she never saw coming.

Under the glitter of Christmas trees and bundles of mistletoe, Elizabeth uncovers more than she’d ever thought possible. Will the Christmas letters strip her of everything she holds dear? Or will they be the biggest gift of the season?

Reading a Jenny Hale book is like coming home. I always get this sense of warmth, happiness, and belonging when I read one of Jenny’s books and The Christmas Letters is no exception. In this book, Jenny is taking us to the countryside for a Christmas experience readers won’t soon forget. Elizabeth’s life comes crashing down around her when her long-time boyfriend ends their relationship. She heads home to spend Christmas with her mama and figure out what to do with her life. Things on the farm are just as she remembers, but when her mama tells her that their family doesn’t own their farm, Elizabeth makes it her quest to find a way for her family to keep their farm. I don’t know what I fell more in love with, the plot, setting, or characters. Jenny is a master at creating these enchanting and beautiful settings that make me wish I could pack my bags and spend my Christmas there. Not only could I see the beautiful landscape in my mind, but there was this sense of community that just leaped from the pages and added a lot of richness to the story. I also really liked how Jenny brought light to a problem plaguing our country, which is corporations buying up land for some sort of development. It’s an issue in my community, and I feel a pang of sadness when I see a big old building pop up on what used to be farmland. 

The flow and pacing of this book were just perfect. It’s smooth and steady, with just enough drama to pique the reader’s interest. I loved how everything just felt so well-balanced; there was a bit of humour, romance, and drama. One of the many great things about a Jenny Hale book is that she always throws in a bit of mystery in her stories. This book has two little mysteries, the first being who this corporation is and how they came to own Elizabeth’s family farm. And the second mystery is who is this mysterious Jimmy, and what is his connection to Elizabeth’s nan? By adding these little mystery elements to the story, Jenny hooked me in even more, and I wanted to read more to find out what would happen next. 

The Christmas Letters is chock-full of characters that are so genuine. I enjoyed Elizabeth’s character. At the beginning of the book, we find her at her lowest point. She has lost her identity and her self-worth because of her ex-boyfriend. Elizabeth feels this sense of failure and uncertainty, and watching her struggle really tugged at my heartstrings. But what I loved about her character is that she still tried to put a positive spin on life; she wanted to help her mama out at the farm and reconnect with friends and her nan’s memory. She didn’t sulk in her room and blame others for her misfortunes. As the story progresses, watching Elizabeth grow and regain her confidence is a joy. 

This book’s romance is typical of a Jenny Hale book, which means it’s sweet as a Christmas cookie. Elizabeth and Paul had that instant connection and chemistry. In my eyes, they fit and made sense as a couple. There was this sense of realism in their relationship. Both are coming out of relationships and are unsure if they want to start something new. Their conversations just had this sense of ease and connection. It was like they just “got” each other. 

The Christmas Letters is an endearing small-town Christmas romance and is the perfect book to read this holiday season. 

Thank you Harpeth Road for the ARC in exchange for a honest review.