Today I am delighted to welcome the very wonderful Judy Astley to Blabbering About Books! I was lucky enough to read a copy of A Merry Mistletoe Wedding and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it. Judy was kind enough to answer some festive questions too, so grab a cup of tea and enjoy!
A Merry Mistletoe Wedding is your latest and very festive novel. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
It’s about Thea and Sean, who met when Thea’s family spent the previous Christmas snowed in at Cove Manor, a large house on the Cornish coast,owned by Sean and rented out for holidays to large groups of visitors. Their relationships has flourished since then and they’re planning to marry, down in Cornwall on Christmas day. Trouble is, Thea’s sister Emily has just had a baby and, having hated feeling trapped by snow the year before, is refusing to be anywhere but home for Christmas. Added to this, Thea’s old-hippie parents Mike and Anna have decided it’s time to look for a new place to live. If the wedding is to happen, it’s going to take some mistletoe magic.
A Merry Mistletoe Wedding has some rather deep and sensitive moments and topics in it – did you find it hard to incorporate these elements into an overall happy novel?
Well harsh reality kicks in, even in the jolliest of books, I find, whether you set out to include it or not. I’m not a great pre-planner so everything kind-of slots into place as I go along and often surprises me along the way. I didn’t at first think of giving Emily a huge dose of post-natal depression but it fitted in so well with her character. I also remembered (painfully!) what that had felt like so it wasn’t hard to write. And the issue of parents getting older and down-sizing – that too felt a natural event to incorporate. And then there’s the issue of the odd ex turning up and getting in the way. It’s a romantic comedy essentially, but turned out to be rather a full-on book in some ways!
What did you enjoy most about writing this novel?
I loved re-visiting the characters from my previous book, It Must Have Been the Mistletoe. I’d felt at the time that I’d like to know what happened to Thea and Sean after they finally got together at the end of that last book. Their story was by no means over (though you don’t have to have read that book to enjoy this). I’d also loved the character of Charlotte who had been something of a Fairy Godmother in that book so she had to come back. She gets the best comic moments, I think.
If you could have the perfect Christmas day, what would it involve?
I’m fairly traditional, I think. I just love having my family all together. Last year it was the whole extended lot – 26 of us, age range 4 to 90, in my house; complete chaos and loads of fun.
Do you have a favourite Christmas film that you just HAVE to watch every year?
Not a Christmassy film at all but I do feel Christmas isn’t ‘done’ till I’ve watched The Great Escape. Every time, I still get heart-thumps as Steve McQueen heads for the wire on his motorbike. One day he’ll make it across, I’m convinced (OK, no he won’t).
What is your favourite part of Christmas?
I think it’s Boxing Day. Everyone’s calmed down, we can all just relax and there are delicious leftovers to eat. I think you can’t beat cold turkey and chips with reheated red cabbage and cold stuffing, along with some cheesy TV and a breezy reviving walk.
And, lastly, sprouts or no sprouts?!
Sprouts! Obviously mine have been simmering since late August.. No really, I like them and I’d feel pretty cheated to have Christmas dinner without them. I like them lightly cooked, with chestnuts and then a dusting of nutmeg and lots of pepper.
Shamefully I never read It Must Have Been The Mistletoe last year and it wasn’t until I’d finished reading A Merry Mistletoe Wedding that I realised it was based upon the same characters and followed on from the same story as the previous book!! However, I was able to read this as a standalone and enjoy it just as much.
A Merry Mistletoe Wedding follows Thea and Sean as they plan their Christmas wedding – with plenty of mistletoe of course! They both want to get married in Cornwall but with Thea’s sister not wanting to travel, Thea’s parents downsizing, and a long distance relationship to maintain, a Christmas wedding is the least of her worries!
The plot focuses on some rather sensitive issues including post-natal depression which was really interesting to see portrayed in a Christmas novel. I think Judy dealt with it well, however I felt like maybe it was a little unrealistic in how quickly it was all resolved as depression, sadly, rarely is resolved with any speed. I also liked how Judy bought up the issue of affairs and how they can affect relationships – it was interesting to read about Thea’s parents both having some kind of affair and I was intrigued to see how they were still together and in love after having done that.
The novel was told through the different characters, with a spot light on each character’s story throughout. However sometimes the plot jumped quickly into another character’s story so I had to pause and work out which character I was reading about! (This could have been due to how my kindle displayed an ARC copy – the paperback may leave adequate space between shifts in perspective!!)
This was overall a really sweet Christmas book that had a very satisfying ending and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Definitely one to add to the Christmas list this year!