Let’s just hope my review doesn’t end up being a confusing mess, haha.
Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy chaos of the busy vicarage.
After several years away from home, Anna returns for Christmas… and an important announcement from her father. As much as she once loved the village, coming back is hard and puts Anna’s social capabilities to the test.
Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, she heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!
Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?
This book is a really short one. With just over 120 pages, I felt like it was the perfect novel to pick up and finish on Christmas Eve itself. I just felt like reading something Christmas-y and doing it in one sitting – perfect choice!
I loved the way our MC, Anna, has social anxiety. It’s portrayed pretty good – or at least according to me, but I don’t have any history with social anxiety so I could be wrong – and felt genuine. She struggled with her family, the people who know her from growing up. Being the vicar’s daughter obviously has a huge impact on her and her anxiety so it’s admirable that she tries to put up with everyone trying to fuss over her.
“We’re all broken, Anna. That’s the nature of being human.”
However. It just felt weird that she was at easy with Simon pretty quickly. Sure, she had a bit of a struggle. A bit. A whole lot less than with everybody else, which – to me – felt weird. I know I just said her social anxiety felt genuine and it did, but not when it came to Simon.
As for the reason I picked up A Vicarage Christmas… I didn’t feel all Christmas-y while reading. It was a hard read, one nearing a darker side and it didn’t feel all fluffy and romantic, not even at the end. Seeing the cover, I really did expect it so be just that but I guess I fooled myself. Not having read the blurb right before diving in might have something to do with that as well…
The most annoying thing about this novel, though, is the obvious lack of editing. Words missing, swapped out with other words, punctuation not making sense. If there’s one thing I cannot handle, it’s that exact thing…
There’s no point being mired in guilt. It only destroys us.
Although I did fly through this book and liked certain things, I also disliked some things. For that, three cupcakes and a huge “maybe” when it comes to the sequels of the Thornthwaite-novels.
As for the munches, I’m going with the family tradition mentioned in A Vicarage Christmas, shepherd’s pie!