As I’ve mentioned before, this year we are inundated with a whole host of yummy looking Christmas books, but it’s SO hard to choose which ones I want to read as there’s just no way I can read them all! So, when I heard about Every Time A Bell Rings, I was intrigued enough to add it to my ‘must – read’ list for this Christmas.
Every Time A Bell Rings is loosely based on the Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life and having never seen the film before, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t quite get all of the elements of the plot. However, I needn’t have worried! Every Time A Bell Rings tells the story of Belle and Jim who grow up together in the same foster family. They form a beautiful bond but when Jim is returned to his parents and Belle stays behind with their foster mum, Tess, Jim promises he’ll keep in touch with Belle.
Told through three different chunks in time, we see how Jim and Belle’s relationship develops and changes over the years and the challenges they face as they themselves decide to become foster parents. Set around Christmas time and incorporating a slight touch of magical realism, Every Time A Bell Rings explores what really is important in life and how life really is just a little bit wonderful.
Jim and Belle were fabulous main characters and along with their foster mum, Tess, I felt like I knew them all so well. They were really well created and stayed true to their life experiences as the plot progressed. There were times in the latter half of the book where I started to find Belle a little frustrating and I wanted to tell her to stop being so selfish but then I realised that the experiences she had had growing up were directly affecting the way she dealt with the situations she faced in her adult life.
As previously mentioned there is a slight element of magical realism to this novel, which whilst I now understand harks back to the idea of It’s A Wonderful Life, threw me a little as I read it. I really like the lesson Belle learnt during this slightly fantastical moment in the plot and it was a clever idea but I found it hard to surrender my imagination to this idea when the rest of the book felt firmly placed in reality. However, it didn’t detract too much from my overall enjoyment of the novel.
I find it interesting reading Irish fiction, I don’t often read a lot, and it was interesting to see the ways Carmel described some things. A few times I had to re-read a few lines as I wasn’t quite sure what was being said but I think it was just my ignorance of Irish language than any fault with the writing!
Overall, Every Time A Bell Rings is a festive treat laced with multiple important themes including a really interesting and in-depth look at fostering and the affect it can have on so many people. It is a story that will stay with you after you’ve turned the final page and has lovely life lessons inside.