In the pretty Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzy is on the verge of leaving her cheating husband when tragedy strikes and she finds herself widowed. Her Christmas Pudding Circle - a group of friends swapping seasonal receipes - offers her a welcome distraction, whilst a simmering rivalry with local cookery writer Nick erupts over who will win Best Mince Pie at the village show...
Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the annual Boxing Day Mystery Play. But who will play Adam to Lizzy's Eve? Could it be the handsome and charismatic soap actor Ritch, or will someone closer to home win her heart? Whatever happens, it promises to be a Christmas to remember!
Last year, I read one of Ashley's books and absolutely loved it, so when I was given this as a pre-Christmas gift I was very happy :)
The Magic of Christmas was a slow starter and it took me until about half way through to really get in to it.
The stories/relationships between the characters was lovely and homely and I did feel attached to Lizzy and enjoyed hearing about her son Jasper and the start of his university life.
One of the main things I enjoyed about this book was the references to other literary works such as classic Shakespeare plays and Synge's 'Playboy of the Western World'. It always makes me feel good when I understand the intertextuality in a book! It makes me feel like my lectures are paying off ;)
The biggest downside to the book for me, is that there wasn't enough Christmas. The title of the book and the blurb on the back promises lots of Christmassy fun when in fact, there isn't. More than half of the book is the lead up to Christmas when there is occasionally mention of Christmas Cake and mince pies and the rest is post Christmas with a few short pages regarding the day itself! I figured the book itself is more about the relationships between characters but I do feel a little cheated out of Christmas reading.
That said, it was a good, quick read and didn't take too much thinking about which is perfect for the season as it's been so busy around here with Christmas and exams coming up! I probably won't read it again but it'll sit happily on my bookshelves just waiting to be discovered again.