USA Today bestselling author Jenny Hale has written a wonderfully festive romance in ‘The Christmas Letters’, set in Mason Ridge, Tennessee and published by Harpeth Road Press.
The cosy Christmas read follows Elizabeth Holloway as she flees New York with a broken heart and returns home to the Tennessee farm which she left, without looking back, seven years ago.
All the feel-good holiday spirit wraps itself around you, especially from the coffee shops and kitchens where you’ll be treated to cinnamon, sugary and chocolatey baked goods galore.
But life isn’t all sweetness and light for Elizabeth, as she wrestles with the idea of who she now is, helped along by property developer Paul Dawson, her beloved Mama and decades-old letters from her Nan, who passed away two years’ previously. Elizabeth also needs to start searching the letters for clues, when she realises the farm might not actually belong to her family.
I love disappearing into a Christmas romance novel, especially one set in my favourite state of Tennessee, where the scent of the peppermint hot chocolates practically leaps off the page in the snow-filled drama. Hale writes sweet, slow burn feel-good fiction, and ‘The Christmas Letters’ easily nestles in this category, which she writes and champions in fellow Harpeth Road Press authors, the publishing company she established in 2021.
Hale offers a greater depth of emotion and internal reflection in her third person novel, so we see a lot of Elizabeth’s personal struggles with who she was as a child on the farm growing up and who she became over seven years in New York with the man she thought she would marry, and whom she fully supported in his business endeavours. However, the novel centres on who Elizabeth – Liz – will become; will her small town home town offer enough to keep her for good, or will she take on another city?
I really enjoyed how the epistolary story unfolded through Nan’s letters, which she sent to her childhood friend. We learn about the woman she thought she was going to be, and the one she became, revealed through a natural and deft way in the current storyline by Hale. I also love the origin of the novel’s title, ‘The Christmas Letters’, though I won’t spoil the surprise for you.
Hale provides a wonderful supporting cast of family and friends for Elizabeth, from her Nan’s 99 year old friend Beatrice to the three farm hands, and their dog, who help Elizabeth’s Mama on the farm, demonstrating a genuine, engaging warmth across the pages that will rival any fireplace cosiness.
Publisher: Harpeth Road Press Release date: 3rd October 2022 Buy ‘The Christmas Letters’ now