Wednesday 22 November 2017

Review: A Season to Remember by Sheila O'Flanagan

Hachette Ireland, €15.90, Hardback

Best-selling author Sheila O'Flanagan departs slightly from her usual fare in this book, which is obviously aimed at the Christmas market.

Instead of concentrating on a few characters from just one family, A Season To Remember is really a series of short stories based on different families, loosely tied together by a stay in a country hotel over one special Christmas.

Sugar Loaf Lodge is the brainchild of Neil and Clare Archer. They bought the ruined and reputedly haunted old mansion in the rolling hills of Wicklow and transformed it into a successful bijou luxury hotel and spa.

But with the downturn in the economy, bookings are down and for the first time, the pair are worried about their future.

However, almost magically, the hotel's special Christmas package is suddenly booked out and as the guests arrive, their stories unfold.

Holly's plans to meet her married boyfriend at the hotel go awry, Andrew and Bridget have lost their life's savings but decide to splash out for Christmas, while Jin, Andy and Cora, characters from a previous novel, Anyone But Him, make a cameo appearance.

There are also 'the Golden Girls', four older divorced/widowed women, wise and full of fun.

New parents come to escape warring grandmothers -- both expecting baby's first Christmas to be spent with them. Several other interesting characters who, for various reasons, want to escape the traditional Christmas at home make up the party, and even the ghost turns up.

This is quite a gentle book for O'Flanagan, providing a snapshot in time of each visitor to the hotel. There is plenty of mulled wine, seasonal spice and romance, while loose ends are tied up in Christmas bows. It will no doubt be a popular gift under the Christmas trees of O'Flanagan fans.

Irish Independent

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