After the untimely death of Jill’s adult son Davey, grief sinks its teeth into her marriage and she uproots to north Norfolk with six-year-old grandson Jack Junior, Davey’s son.
A year on, Jill has settled into a cosy cottage in Widmore Bay, which she’s renting from Mary, her neighbour, Jack Junior is attending the local school, and Jill is running her own food van business, Veggi Bakes and Shakes. But Christmas is looming, and while little Jack is bouncing with excitement, Jill can’t bear the agonising memories that resurface with a season she once loved. In short, she can’t wait for it to be over, but fate has other ideas.
Whilst I loved the Christmassy feel to this novel, it was the poignancy that powered through it that did it for me. It took me on a roller coaster of emotions – one moment I was laughing, and the next I was welling up. The writing is truly stunning. Eva captures the essence of Christmas beautifully with her intricate descriptions, and the dialogue between the characters is so well executed that it draws you in and makes you feel as if you’re there, in the story. The cast of characters – estranged husband, Jack Senior, level-headed daughter, Molly, recovering addict, Gabby (Jill’s daughter-in-law), and Irish neighbour, Mary, have so much depth that I could see them in my mind’s eye. I must admit, I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Jill and her landlady/friend/childminder Mary. Oh, how I’d love a Mary living next door to me.
A Gift called Hope is a fun but emotional read. It’s a story about love and loss, grief and coping and hope. Not your usual cosy Christmas story but much, much more.