Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Book Review - An Off-Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

Amazon UK
Title: An Off-Piste Christmas
Author: Julie Houston
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 4th November 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace's, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.

Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces' class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town... But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles...

I have just spent a couple of pleasurable if slightly befuddling hours reading this lovely novella set against the backdrop of the Italian Alps. 

I was taken slightly by surprise, as I didn't quite realise until I started that this is the next book in Julie Houston's series, featuring the Westmoreland family, and all of their increasingly complicated relations. I think that if you haven't read any of the previous books you may be slightly confused too by just who is related to who, and why, and since it has been a while since I read them, it took me a while to get it all straight in my head again. 

Regardless once I got into the book which starts with a hilarious opening chapter, I soon was really enjoying the story that was being told. 

Harriet is scared of heights, doesn't like the cold and can't ski, in fact it soon becomes a case of can't ski - won't ski! Yet she and the rest of her family, all five of them, plus her best friend Grace, her family, and also Amanda's family are all heading off for a skiing holiday in the period between Christmas and New Years. 

There are so many light hearted amusing scenes that will really resonate initially with anyone that has flown with a budget airline, and then later on the attempts in getting Harriet to ski are also amusing. 

However its once Harriet gives up and goes off exploring that the whole focus of the story changes in quite a surprising way, and adds a whole new dynamic to the book which makes a good story even more impressive. 

There are some wonderful descriptions of the food being produced in the chalet that my mouth was really watering for, and with children of various ages being present on the trip, there were all sorts of amusing interactions, including with the teenagers who is getting together with who, and the pre-teen commentary on the situation. 

All in all, once I got my head around the characters, I found An Off-Piste Christmas, to be a fun look at an extended family holiday in Cortina, complete with the sheer contrasts with the richest and slightly more regular members of the party! 

Thank you so much to Julie Houston for this review copy of the book. This was my honest opinion. 

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