Christmas in London: A Novel - Anita Hughes

A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge's in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.

 

While I normally adore this type of book with all of its details about baking, this one fell supremely flat for me in various ways.

 

Firstly, the misogyny was too much for me. The two main characters are both female but seem to have absolutely no idea of their worth. Male characters fight over one with no ever visible connections and another suggests that a famous chef is only interested in the other for her looks, and not her talents. Regardless of ultimate results, it was really frustrating to see the girls rarely standing up for themselves and instead letting the guys drag them in every which direction.

 

The speech in this book was the other killer for me. Barely any of the dialogue written was lines that people would actually say. All of the speech was incredibly stilted, with characters speaking for a good paragraph or two before allowing someone else a turn. They gave far more details than would ever be interesting and relevant, and blurted out stuff that people just wouldn't say naturally. With every set of quotation marks, I found myself pulled completely out of the story.

 

There were two plots going on in this book, and quite honestly, we could lose Kate's entire story. It reads as a subplot--it's not until chapter four that we read from her perspective or learn anything about her--and doesn't contribute anything to the other side of the book. I also wish that there had been more offered in the beginning; Louisa is picked to be in a cooking show because the other girl had an allergic reaction and her lips were swollen up… I don't buy it. Get some allergy medication. It works wonders.

 

I did, however, enjoy all of the details about pastries, though I wish that there had been more variety and that we'd seen Louisa learning more new recipes. One strong scene was when she got distracted from her agenda by buying ingredients and that was probably one of the only real scenes in the novel.

 

This book just wasn't a success for me, and I'll be reading other novels this Christmas.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.