Books make wonderful last minute presents or stocking fillers so for the next twelve days I’m going to be featuring some gorgeous Christmas books, just right to gift – or buy as a treat for yourself! And to start off the feature is Heidi Swain with her sparkling new Christmas novel, ‘The Christmas Wish List’. Heidi has also written a special festive post for us, about her love of advent calendars. I’m with you on that , Heidi!
After being let go from her job in a swanky hotel just weeks before Christmas, Hattie is feeling lost. Even more so when her high-flying boyfriend announces he’s landed his dream job in Abu Dhabi and asks her to move with him. Luckily, Hattie’s long-time friend Dolly is on hand to help and invites Hattie to spend one last holiday in the small, festive town of Wynbridge, determined to give her a Christmas to remember . . .
Upon Hattie’s arrival, holiday preparations are in full swing. But for Hattie, whose Christmas cheer has long since run out, it’ll take more than mince pies and mistletoe to open her heart to the season once more. Relishing the task of reigniting Hattie’s Christmas spirit, Dolly suggests they create a wish list of all the things the season can offer, and with the helpful hands of Wynbridge’s resident handyman, Beamish, Hattie finds her frosty exterior is starting to thaw.
As Wynbridge prepares for its most spectacular Christmas yet, will Hattie leave snowy England behind for life in a sunnier clime, or will she in fact realise that her heart’s desire lies much closer to home?
Buying link to Amazon
Now, over to you Heidi!
Happy Advent everyone and thank you Karen for inviting me back to kick off this very special festive countdown. I am particularly delighted to be taking part today as my Christmas book for this year, The Christmas Wish List features something very special to mark the date – an old-fashioned advent calendar!
I’m sure I haven’t been alone this morning in rushing downstairs to open the door marked ‘1’ and then feeling that heady rush of excitement which marks the countdown to Christmas Eve which, as the years zip by, seems to happen faster and faster. I know two of the main characters in my new book, Hattie and Dolly both feel exactly the same way.
I was thrilled to have another opportunity to return to Wynbridge again this winter and knew that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to indulge in writing about a few of my favourite festive things.
The school setting was a real treat to create as, having worked in a local middle school for a decade, I used to love getting caught up in the heady excitement of play rehearsals, singing carols, delivering cards and all participating in all manner of creative crafts, bakes and themed lessons. Hattie enjoyed the experience too – and not only because she had the lovely school caretaker, Beamish sporting chunky knits to admire – but also because her octogenarian best friend, Dolly was determined to reacquaint her with some simple seasonal pleasures. Such as the advent calendar.
I have had the same advent calendar for… well, I reckon it must be over twenty years now. It’s a Matthew Rice beauty and it’s so old I can’t even find an image online to date it! More than a couple of the doors are secured with Sellotape and the edges are rather frayed but I wouldn’t part with it for anything. I know what each day will reveal but that doesn’t matter. Having kept it for so long, it’s enriched with many memories including when the children were tiny and would take it in turns to open a door a day.
There are no fancy chocolates, candles or beauty products behind each door but rather a picture of a teddy bear, a fairy or a ragdoll, to name a few. The advent calendar, for me, isn’t about getting a physical treat every day (surely, we get enough of those on the 25th), and I wanted the characters in my books to enjoy the same experience.
The morning Dolly gives Hattie her very own calendar – complete with its glitter enhanced wintry festive scene – and opens her own – which is unashamedly the exact replica of mine – is a very special scene between the two friends and the very first moment Hattie… well, I don’t want to give too much away!
Anyway, I had assumed that old-fashioned advent calendars would be difficult to track down, what with so many fancy brands selling luxurious incarnations. One that caught my eye was £160. I kid you not! But thankfully, I was wrong. My local department store in Norwich, Jarrolds, has a vast collection on their top floor and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are even tiny cards that you could send to friends and there’s one which looked exactly like Dolly’s cottage. They are all beautiful and designed to give pleasure for many, many years to come rather than be ripped apart and thrown away. And, as they are so easy to come by, I implore you to follow mine and Dolly’s lead this advent (if you don’t already) and buy your own old-fashioned advent calendar to become as much a part of your familiar festive traditions as the crackers and cranberry!
Wishing you all a very merry Yule, happy holidays and a joyous Christmas!
What a lovely article, Heidi. I love advent calendars and remember the ones like these, where there was a picture behind every door. You made me feel so nostalgic I went out and found myself a traditional advent calendar too! 🙂
Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.
A lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.
Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in July 2015 and since then she has had a further eight books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. She is currently celebrating the release of her 2019 Christmas title, The Christmas Wish List, while working on The Secret Seaside Escape which will publish in 2020.
Heidi is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm.
You can contact Heidi here:
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Single all the Way!
When Meg and her mother Sally both break up with their husbands at the same time they decide to cancel Christmas and go off to a remote cottage in Cornwall together. Can they resist the magic of Christmas, and are both marriages really over?
Avaible as an ebook or paperback: https://geni.us/B07XDYL7GHCover