‘A Snow Garden and other stories’ by Rachel Joyce

A Snow Gardenstarstarstarstar“Compelling and rewarding, tender and funny, it portrays family relationships at a time of year that should be joyous but is so often tangled and painful, reminding us that there is always a bigger story behind the one we first see.”

Rachel Joyce has become one of my favourite authors in recent years. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and Perfect were all a pleasure to read. So I was excited to see a new collection of modern day Christmas stories by her in the bookstore! I had to buy it and gobble it up like turkey. In the foreword she said that some of the characters and situations  were built from bits and pieces cut from her novels. Happily these are not saccharine sweet Christmas stories. They are freshly funny and human–no perfection in sight!

The collection has seven separate stories, but they are all loosely connected with characters from one story randomly popping up in others. I love it when authors do that! (Maeve Binchy did the same thing in The Lilac Bus many years ago – if you know of others, please let me know).

These stories are so easy to get into (something I appreciate in a short story!) and showcase Joyce’s skill for conveying great things in simple everyday situations…a woman finds a cure for a broken heart where she least expects it; a husband and wife build their son a bicycle and, in the process, deconstruct their happy marriage; freak weather brings the airport to a standstill on Christmas Day.

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