Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft: A romantic odyssey that will warm even the coldest of hearts - book review -
The perfect accompaniment to your festive tipple and mince pie, Under the Mistletoe is guaranteed to lift the spirits and chase away the winter gloom as Moorcroft – much-loved for her enthralling feel-good fiction – packs everything you could possible want from an escapist read into this emotionally-charged, bright and beautiful story.
Set in Moorcroft’s now familiar picturesque village of Middledip, this enchanting new trip to rural Cambridgeshire brings us her trademark exquisitely and richly detailed cast of characters (both new and touchingly familiar) as we meet 35-year-old artist Laurel Hill who is rediscovering the place where she grew up.
Christmas is a time for family and friends and Laurel is feeling adrift after leaving her ex-husband in London. Her marriage to Will recently ended in divorce because of Laurel’s infertility and now she is returning to her home village of Middledip to stay with her older sister Rea Grove and her 14-year-old niece, Daisy.
Rea has problems of her own… her agoraphobia has recently become so bad that she hasn’t left the house for months, and lively teenager Daisy has been truanting from school. Laurel is happy to just enjoy a quiet time in the countryside and to help them both until she decides what to do with her future.
But life in Middledip turns out to be far from straightforward and time stands still when she meets up with her old flame Grady Cassidy. Laurel and Grady had once been ‘a bit of a thing’ and it has been nineteen years since she last saw him.
Very soon, it seems as if they’ve never been apart but, through her happiness, Laurel is still haunted by a painful secret… an event which took place one dark night nineteen years ago involving Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac, and forced her to leave the village at the tender age of 16.
Mac is now a teacher at Daisy’s school but can Laurel learn to forgive and forget… or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain just a dream?
Moorcroft employs all her natural warmth and empathy as she steals our hearts and conjures up all those magical Christmas vibes in this enchanting festive concoction of memories, family bonds, community spirit, and rekindled passion.
As the past she tried so hard to forget finally catches up with Laurel, she rediscovers the joys of village life, the rewards of shared endeavour and the sparks of a love that she thought had long been extinguished.
Readers will love immersing themselves in the dramas and comedies of Middledip, and the village’s fabulously creative Christmas preparations, but there are also deeply-felt reminders of the real-life issues that cast a shadow over the lives of some of its troubled residents.
And as the temperatures plummet, the snow falls and love blossoms among the holly wreaths and festive fare, the true meaning of the season comes alive in a romantic odyssey that will warm even the coldest of hearts!
(Avon, paperback, £7.99)