Monday, October 22, 2018

Review: The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

The Christmas Sisters
by Sarah Morgan
Release Date: September 25th 2018
2018 HQN Books
Kindle Edition; 416 Pages
ISBN: 978-1335946478
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

My Thoughts
The Christmas Sisters is one those warm Christmas stories that you just can help but love. Drawn to the story just by the words "snowy Highlands of Scotland" myself, I couldn't wait to be treated to large fires, hot chocolate, cozy nights, and of course, the snow storms. It is what drew me to this book in the first place and I wasn't disappointed at all.  Basically, it's an escapist story for me, far different from the usual fare I read, but Sarah Morgan is so good at writing escapist stories that just make you want to read another one and another one.  Take family trauma, sisters who love each other but struggle to really understand one another, an adoptive mother with some secrets, and a location that is just made for Christmas, and you have a story just waiting to be told. Curling up in from the fire on a rainy day and reading this was just an added bonus.

For twenty-five years, the family has avoided discussing what really happened the night the girls' parents died in an ice climbing accident on Mount Rainier just days before Christmas.  However, the tragedy left scars on all three of the girls and on Suzanne, the woman who survived the avalanche and who took in the girls after the accident.  Coming together this Christmas would set off a chain of events that would force everyone to look at past events and confront their fears and what actually happened that night and afterwards.  I don't want to say more as it would spoil the story but I loved how it all came together and how it was all revealed.  First of all, you have Suzanne, suffering from nightmares all these years of the event, trying to block it all out and raise the girls the best to her ability.  Hannah's development is the one I loved the most as she learned to show emotion and not always be so perfect all of the time; I thought the author dealt with her character the best of them all.  Beth, wanting to go back to work but taking a path that was not greatly conducive to her or her family; watching her struggle through this and seeing her husband support her was wonderful.  And then there was Posy, who never really left home, but who was looking for adventures of her own and was afraid to reveal her plans to her family.  Having two sisters of my own, I could relate to a lot of the scenarios that were going on in this story, even laughing out loud a few times as I could picture it in my own house so easily.  

When Suzanne came down with a nasty flu right before Christmas, it was up to the girls to pick up the tasks and try to keep Christmas from flying apart.  Through all of the commotion, the girls were able to discuss their lives and work through some of their issues and really talk for the first time in ages.  I enjoyed the humour and witty situations that occurred throughout these discussions, especially the scenes with Hannah and her nieces, so fun; the aftermath and her sister's reaction to some of the things her sisters did with her kids was fun too as I remember my own grand-father being like that and telling everyone to relax.  It brought back a lot of my own memories and the fun times I had at my grandparents when I was young.

The Christmas Sisters was an engaging story that was a bit deceptive in its presentation.  While presenting as a fun Christmas story, there were deeper elements that were addressed in this book like acceptance, forgiveness,, communicating, and embracing the future.  The writing just draws you in, makes you feel like part of the family, and within the plot, are many unexpected subplots that I enjoyed tremendously, all of which flowed together at the end.  I have always enjoyed Sarah Morgan's books, and this one is no exception.  If you are looking for a fun, engaging Christmas read, then I highly recommend this one.