Christmas Day, London 1880
Snow falls … a dying Irish girl clutching her new-born baby drags herself to the sanctuary of an East End orphanage and throws herself on the mercy of the Sisters of Clemency. The nuns raise little Ettie O’Reilly as their own and provide her with the love and education she might never have had. But the lives of the nuns and orphans are soon crushed by a powerful and greedy bishop.
The heart-breaking outcome separates Ettie from her friends and family, luring her into a world of male dominance and the fickle nature of intimate relationships. In her naivety, with her faith in the goodness of human nature severely tested, she doesn’t know who to trust. And when the boy who has promised his undying love and loyalty betrays her, Ettie’s world starts to crumble.
She must finally accept the hard-hitting truth – happiness comes at a cost! Does she have the courage and wisdom to face the demons she long ago learned about from the Sisters of Clemency? Will the resolution of an undiscovered and painful secret be her making – or breaking?
I have a little confession to make. Although I have several of Carol’s books on my ever increasing ‘to be read’ pile, I haven’t actually read one yet. Mrs. Ginger Book Geek has read and loved several of Carol’s books. We both like the same sort of books so I knew that when I read one of Carol’s books I would instantly love it. When I was invited to take part in the blog tour for ‘Christmas Child’ I knew it would be the ideal opportunity to acquaint myself with Carol’s work. After having read and loved ‘Christmas Child’ I am actually cross with myself for having left it this long to read one of her books. I absolutely adored reading ‘Christmas Child’ but more about that in a bit.
I couldn’t help but take to Ettie O’Reilly from the first time I met her and in a sense I wanted to ‘Mother’ her. Ettie comes from tragic circumstances as her mother gave birth to her and carried Ettie to the orphanage run by the nuns. Once her mother knows that Ettie is safe, her birth mother collapses and dies. Ettie has no other family and for her the other children and nuns in the orphanage are her family. Ettie is older and wiser than her years. She tries to mother the other children and she is devastated when the orphanage has to close. Ettie is taken on as housemaid to a tobacconist and his ailing wife. Ettie works as hard as she can. Ettie is kind, compassionate, sensitive, hard working, determined, driven, independent, dependable and occasionally stubborn. I was keeping everything crossed that things would work out for Ettie and that she would find the happiness that she so deserved.
It didn’t take me long at all to get into this book. In fact by the time I got to the end of the first page I just knew that I might as well cancel any plans I had that day (that makes me sound busy when I really am not busy at all) because I would be unable to put the book to one side even just for a nanosecond. That certainly proved to be the case. I was blown away by the story and by the characters. I managed to binge read the book over the course of a day which is pretty good going for me. Usually I have the attention span of a gnat and I am easily distracted but not in this case because I was so enjoying the book that I was able to shut out all other distractions and focus solely on the book. I reached the end of the book far sooner than I had wanted to. I was enjoying the story, the characters and the author’s writing style so much that just wanted the book to continue.
‘Christmas Child’ is superbly written. The author has a writing style that will grab your attention from the start, draw you into the story and then she reels you in. Once she has your attention, she doesn’t let it go until you close the back cover as it were. Through her writing, Carol developed a hold over me and it was a hold that I didn’t want to break. Carol writes so realistically and she uses such vivid descriptions that I really did feel as though I was part of the story myself. I even found that I tried to interact with the book. Before anybody says anything, yes I know this is fiction and therefore not real, but if I love a book to the extent that I loved reading ‘Christmas Child’ then I tend to ‘live’ the story as if it were real.
Reading ‘Christmas Child’ certainly took me on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride with all the highs, lows, ups, downs, happiness and sadness. On more than one occasion I felt myself well up and on the verge of tears.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Christmas Child’ and I would definitely recommend this book to other readers. I can’t wait to read what Carol comes up with next. Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait. Whilst I wait I will definitely be reading those books of Carol’s that I have on my ‘to be read’ mountain. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.