Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Book Review - A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Amazon UK
Title: A Fairy Tale for Christmas
Author: Chrissie Manby
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 3rd November 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

A wonderful, heartwarming and funny Christmas novel from Chrissie Manby, perfect for curling up with in front of the fire.

What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true?

It's the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.

But Kirsty soon learns that it's not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there's Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after... or reveal their love to be nothing but a 'showmance'?

With Christmas just around the corner, it's going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball.

I am a sucker for a pantomime, and have a real soft spot for Cinderella. I half wish I could borrow some children to watch the new massive production at the Palladium, but that would be weird, and clearly I need to get back to the a point! 

The NEWTS are putting on Cinderella this year, and guess who is playing the lead? It's only Kirsty who Chrissie Manby fans may remember from A Proper Family Adventure, as she was also onboard the ship the Benson family were on. She has followed boyfriend Jon, to Newbay, in order to star in the am-dram panto that Jon has written and directed. 

What can I say about Jon? Well he really is the baddie of the piece. He seems overly critical of Kirsty continually, and seemed to have running digs about the size of her feet and her weight, running continually. To the extent that I swear that if I heard him say its "fast day" to Kirsty one more time, I wanted to travel to Newbay to whack him over and over with a hard crusty baguette, the sort that he wouldn't let Kirsty eat. 

Then there is the most heartwarming storyline of the book which involves Ben and Thea. Seeing how Thea comes out of herself after she meets Kirsty and decides to audition to be in the chorus is a joy to behold, and does wonders for showing how drama can improve a child's confidence. At the start of the book she feels a bit lanky and not sure of her own body, with not fabulous co-ordination, she doesn't really have any friends, and then she becomes a mouse and everything changes. 

The whole book focuses around the auditions and subsequent production of Cinderella, and we get to know the whole cast incredibly well. I loved the mix of personalities in the show's company, and seeing how some of them are just like the roles they have been cast in. I loved the glimpses we got of the twins playing the ugly stepsisters, and it sounds as though they had the just the right level of knee-slapping humour and risque ad-libs. 

I found the whole book flowed really well, and I can't believe that this is Chrissie Manby's 20th book already, as it means I am a lot older than I thought, having read all of her books. This is another shining example of a book that is a joy to read from Chrissie, its not overtly festive but has all the trimmings of the season, while focusing on the panto's run, rather than Christmas Day itself. 

With some interesting sub plots, a very enjoyable set of main storylines, two focal points both of which provide plenty of entertainment, this is a story that will conjure up memories of your own trips to the local panto, making you want to scream out all those classic lines including "oh no he isn't" and "it's behind you" while seeing just what the whole cast really get up to behind the scenes. 

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