My fab guest reviewer (my Mum!) is back today with her thoughts on Katie Flynn’s Christmas novel:
Jimmy Trewin and his little sister are devastated by their mother’s death and horrified to find themselves entrusted to the far from tender care of a hated neighbour, Mrs Huxtable. They hope their father will rescue them when his ship comes into port but this does not happen and when Cyril Huxtable is seen by the children hiding “a wad of notes” away, a wad which subsequently disappears, they realise they are in deep trouble. Cyril accuses them of theft and threatens a terrible revenge so they decide to leave Liverpool and try to find their mother’s family in Wales.
Soon, they meet Miiss Trent, a school teacher who has been unfairly dismissed, and agree to join forces since Miss Trent also hopes to find relatives in Wales. But Cyril has promised to pursue them until they hand over his property, and soon they realise he has picked up their trail…
I’ve read several of Katie Flynn’s books now and I found A Family Christmas to be another gripping story. This novel is filled with every emotion possible; you would have to have a swinging brick for a heart not to experience the pain, the fear and the love contained in this tale of Liverpool life set in the early thirties.
The story revolves around Jimmy aged twelve and his younger sister Mo – a six year old with amazing resourcefulness and self preservation. Today’s infants may be able to surf the net and master a mobile phone, but I pray that only a few will be faced with such trauma and anguish as found in the pages of this book.
Life with their guardian, cruel, heartless Mrs Huxtable is tough. The children are used to doing the tasks that she is being paid for, and but for the touching support of neighbours and friends they face a miserable Christmas ahead. However as Christmas approaches, Jimmy and Mo’s meagre existence dissolves into a fight for survival.
From this point on the reader is left with heart in mouth as to whether the children can survive both the treacherous weather and the daunting depths of the darkness that engulfs them physically and mentally. Always alert and looking out for one another the two children are offered shelter with the Salvation Army, but this is short lived as their devotion to each other’s safety sees six year old Mo, once again shifting amongst the shadows of the streets of Liverpool’s murky night.
In desperation to escape their hunter the children finally find refuge and caring with an out of work teacher named Glenys, whom herself has fallen on hard times. Together decisions are made to not only seek their grandparents, but to finally flee far enough to not have to face the black bearded gruesome face of Cyril Huxtable jumping out from every doorway. My heart was with Glenys at every daunting bend and twist of their journey and I was captured by the drive and determination she showed.
As I’ve come to expect from Katie’s books, she adds a number of twists into the story and all is not always as it seems. As soon as one hurdle is overcome another quickly appears but through all of the trials and tribulations the reader can feel the warmth of this story and a cleverly thought out finale to the tale left me sighing and smiling at the same time!
A Family Christmas is out now in paperback and ebook formats.
Find out more about Katie Flynn and her writing at: http://www.katieflynn.com/books/
With thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy of this novel.