Review – The Christmas We Met by Kate Lord Brown


Do you miss Christmas? As a matter of fact I do, but if you belong to the majority of people I know, you probably don’t. Please do me a favor and keep on reading. 🙂 Some time ago, when I started to read Kate Lord Brown‘s The Christmas We Met, I was expecting a very wintry and christmassy novel, but it isn’t.

The Christmas We Met
Image provided by Orion¹

After Grace’s husband Sam vanishes she loses everything. She has to watch as her home and all her belongings are sold to creditors and her beloved workshop has to go under the hammer. When Grace is finally ready to take a new job, it’s to work as a secretary for Fraser Stratton and not as a jeweler. The day she drives to Wittering Manor for her job interview is the first day of a turbulent year that might change Grace’s life forever.

Fraser Stratton is in the process of writing his memoirs and needs help sorting his thoughts. He is an eccentric and lovable old man who made me laugh more than once. Even though most of the characters in the novel are well-developed, Fraser is my favorite. Grace, who is depressed after all that she’s gone through, soon realizes that she’s needed and, not surprisingly, turns into a much happier person. This process however is not a smooth one and from time to time Grace behaves irrational.

As I’ve said before, The Christmas We Met is not a Christmas novel, it spans a whole year and is set in the 1970s. As Fraser Stratton writes his memoirs, there are flashbacks to his past which is even more gripping than the action taking place in the present.

This novel is like a scavenger hunt full of mystery that soon turns into a page-turner. The Christmas We Met is well-researched and Kate Lord Brown has taken care of even the smallest details. If you like engrossing historical fiction, then this one is for you.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

² An uncorrected proof was provided by the publisher.

Review – The Obituary Writer by Lauren St John


Lauren St John’s novel The Obituary Writer had been sitting on my shelf for almost three years until it finally felt like the right book to read. I guess you know these moments, right? 🙂

The Obituary Writer
Image provided by Orion¹

One day, Nick Donaghue, an obituary writer for THE TIMES, is on his way to work, when he is involved in a horrible train crash where he is the only one escaping unharmed. While everybody else thinks Nick to be very fortunate, his life is turning into a literal nightmare. After months of sleepless nights, he moves from London to an old beach house in Cornwall where he runs into Sasha and has to give up his notion of living a quiet and secluded life.

It is hard to put this novel into a literary genre. The Obituary Writer starts out as a mystery with thriller elements, then it turns into a love story. This would have been okay. Unfortunately, the romance is soon sprinkled with paragraphs right out of an erotic novel that seem utterly out of place. And to top it all off, there’s a little bit of crime here, and some sick lit ² there. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with mixing genres if the mix is homogeneous. In this case it isn’t and it seems like the author wanted to try out all these different genres to see how they worked for her.

Other than that, The Obituary Writer is an entertaining novel. It sucks you in right at the beginning and holds your attention for quite some time. The middle is a little slow, but the narrative takes up speed again in the last third of the book.

While we get to know Nick Donaghue’s character – his feelings, fears and doubts – very closely, most of the other characters stay in the background. It would have been nice to get a better understanding of Sasha, the woman who attracts Nick’s attention.

If you are as drawn to this novel by its beautiful cover as I was, you might as well give it a try, but it will not be a smooth ride, that’s for sure. And if you’ve already read The Obituary Writer, I’d like to know what you thought about the ending. But no spoilers please!

3 Star Rating: Recommended

² There is a spoiler hidden underneath. If you still want to see it, just highlight the text with your mouse.