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How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone... 
Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.
But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?

This book illustrates how special a thing it is to have people send you books out of the blue; it's a privilege and a pleasure. I wouldn't have known about this book, let alone read and loved it, if it hadn't landed in my letterbox. I'm very happy it did, because I enjoyed the hours it kept me company. It made my commute immeasurably better, it made me laugh and sigh, it reduced me to tears once, and it gave me recipes!

Our hero, the aptly and seasonally named Eve, is struggling to rise from the ashes of her once-perfect relationship. She's determined To Do Something For Herself, To Be Independent Once More, and Put Her Sorrow Away For Good.I know how she feels. Nurturing her neglected creativity with a pottery class and renting a houseboat seem good places to start, even if it means she'll disappoint her mum by not being home for Christmas. Eve's family are lovely; they squabble and support and try to do the best for each other. I loved her dad's garish outfits and her sister Harriet's awesome efficiency. It's a really heart-warming portrait of a family, in no way perfect, caring and infuriating - to me that feels very real.

I'm a little resistant to romance in books... with women waiting for a man to come along and make things better and complete them. I want there to be positive portraits of single women because obviously it's entirely possible to have a full and happy life without a partner. But I'll tell you a secret, my resistance is a little bit because I'd love to be swept off my feet by some sweet guy that totally respects my independence but also wants to go to the Tower of London with me eight times a year and indulge my need to be constantly fed stories, and I do get a bit cross with myself for 'giving in' to this feeling. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the romance threads in stories can unsettle my equilibrium (and that I read through the lens of my own life. A lot.) Anyway, despite everything I just said, I liked the romance bit in How to Stuff Up Christmas! Contrary, me? Yep. But, also, there's no sense that Eve is waiting or looking for or jumping into a new relationship. If, however, someone who could be a great person to get to know better comes along, why turn away from the opportunity.

How to Stuff Up Christmas is a super December read, and it's reminded me again to keep reassessing my own reading habits. When we limit ourselves, we lose out. It's an entertaining and funny story, good company, and about a pretty ordinary set of people - and that is meant as a huge compliment. The cover is also so cute and glittery- I've not got a high-res picture so you'll have to take my word for it! And did I mention the recipes that head chapters intermittently throughout the book? They're great too - Daisy's Chocolate Biscuit Cake would go down very well right about now, please. Thanks go to Corvus for sending me the book, and Rosie Blake for writing it - Merry Christmas!

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