Thursday 30 September 2021

Guest Review: One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley

This Christmas will be the most special of them all...

Elderly widow Sabine knows this will be her last Christmas in her beloved home, Mitras Castle. Determined to make it just like the ones she remembers from her childhood, she employs Dido Jones of Heavenly Houseparties to help with the big day.

Dido is enchanted by the castle as soon as she steps through the imposing front door. And as Christmas day approaches, her feeling of connection to the old house runs deeper than she first thought. But when the snow begins to fall and Sabine's family arrive at the house - including Dido's teenage crush Xan - tensions rise around the castle's future and long-buried mysteries begin to unravel...

As past secrets come to light, can this still be a magical Christmas to remember?

Review: I love this time of year when the festive books begin to arrive. This is the first one I have read this year and I’m pleased that it is by one of my ‘go-to’ authors. Trisha Ashley always delights me with her annual festive stories. As the title suggests, this one is set in a castle which turns out to be in a remote part of the north of England. I was literally hooked by the story right from the start and found it hard to put down. I should mention the book’s bright and attractive cover which depicts the castle in question just as I envisaged it from the author’s description.

The setting for this story, Mithras Castle, is actually a manor house to which a battlemented wing has been added at some time. The owner of the house and land surrounding it is Sabine Powys, an elderly widow. Having recently found out that she has not very long left to live, she has decided to have a fantastic Christmas celebration like the ones she remembers from days gone by. To this end, Sabine has engaged the services of Heavenly Houseparties, a business run by friends Dido and Henry, to organise household activities for the month of December, including a house party over the Christmas period. Dido feels an instant attraction to the castle and its grounds that she cannot explain, never having been there before. She does, however, recognise Sabine’s godson Xan, who she met, and had a tremendous crush on, in her teens. It seems that she is still attracted to him, but is he aware of her? As the month progresses, and more of the Christmas guests arrive, it becomes apparent that Sabine has an alternative motive for inviting them all there - she is to decide the future of the castle after her death. Among dusty old books and letters, long-kept secrets come to light that shock everyone and make Sabine’s decision even more complicated.

I can highly recommend this wonderful festive read, which would make a great addition to anyone’s Christmas reading list or Christmas stocking. It is positively brimming with varied and interesting characters, all in a marvellous setting in which the reader is served up meal after meal of mouthwatering dishes while being privy to family feuds, shocking revelations and unexpected romance. I loved the clever way in which the story is told, with chapters voiced by Sabine or Dido in turn. I found myself really immersed in life at the castle in the days leading up to Christmas, anticipating the arrival of the guests, wondering what they were going to be like - a mark of skilful storytelling. Although central to the plot, Sabine’s illness and terminal diagnosis do not overshadow the story; they are dealt with with sensitivity and there is also plenty of humour within the book. I do enjoy a story featuring a dog, and this one has a cute little spaniel who is never far from the action; with all that lovely food being produced in the castle’s kitchen, that’s not surprising.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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