Monday, 7 December 2015

Little Northern Christmas: Book Review - Christmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage

"With a whirlwind lifestyle travelling the world, the one thing Jess Millward relies on is Christmas with her gran in cosy Cranberry Cottage. When her grandmother reveals the house is directly in the path of a new high-speed railway, Jess is determined to fight. 

Can Jess save the cottage from demolition, or will she have no home to come to this Christmas?"

Book reviews

I think the festive period is a great time for short and sweet stories. When you're busy seeing loved ones, partying and preparing for Christmas, you might not have chance to read a full story, so Christmas at Cranberry Cottage is the perfect solution - it can be enjoyed in a relatively short space of time, so even for the busier among us you can excuse yourselves to relax with this fab story! 

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage is a sweet short story that I enjoyed. It follows Jess, who is heading back from her high-flying photography job in the US to spend the festive period with her Gran at her beloved Cranberry Cottage. When she finds out there are plans for a high-speed rail line that will mean her Gran has to leave Cranberry Cottage, Jess isn't happy and heads back to try and prevent this from happening. 

One thing that always amazes me about short stories is that how, if done well, they can so quickly set up the premise for the story and make the characters seem familiar. Talli Roland does that expertly and with apparent ease - very quickly you can see that Jess is a determined individual with a real soft spot for her childhood home. I must admit I didn't overly warm to her due at first, due to her bull-in-a-china-shop approach to the issue at hand, but I actually think that's the point... as you soon discover towards the end of the story when some of the other characters tell her she's being too feisty with the issue. Speaking of other characters, I have to mention her Gran, who I absolutely loved. She sounds so kind and caring and I enjoyed seeing their clearly close relationship unfold. 

My favourite part of the story was definitely finding out about Christmases spent at Cranberry Cottage - they sound wonderful! Everything you imagine when thinking of the perfect Christmas. Plenty of food, a warm fire, mulled wine and opening presents together... bliss. I can really understand why Jess didn't want to part with the cottage so easily due to the lovely memories it holds. 

The only slight problem with this being a short story is that elements of it do feel slightly rushed. I'd have loved to have found out more about Jess and her past, and also see how she deals with the future. There's a hint at romance being on the horizon for her, but you can't really get into it (or really buy into the chemistry between the two of them) as it is just too quick. I'd have enjoyed seeing this romance play out and how it ends up but, because of this being a short story, you don't a chance.  

Overall I think I would have preferred Christmas at Cranberry Cottage to be a full length novel as it has so much promise, but I did enjoy it none the less. It has a beautiful location, interesting characters and lovely Christmas traditions. I'd have liked to have seen more romance in the story, but the strong family element running through it works well too. This story really does remind you what 'home' actually means - it's not where you are, but who you're with. A pretty apt message for this time of year. Christmas at Cranberry Cottage is a lovely, quick and charming Christmas read. 

*A big thank you to Talli Roland for providing a copy of the story, in exhange for an honest review. 

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