Author: Jennifer Scott
Published: October 2015, NAL
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
The national bestselling author of The Sister Season shares a new novel about a woman who discovers the spirit of the season is truly in the giving....
With the holidays around the corner, empty-nester Bren Epperson realizes that for the first time in decades, she has no large family to cook for, no celebration to create. So she starts teaching a holiday cooking class, and it’s a hit—until Virginia Mash, the old lady upstairs, bursts in complaining. Rather than retaliate, Bren suggests that the class shower Virginia with kindness—and give her one hundred gifts. So they embark on the plan to lift a heart. Along the way, amidst the knitting and the making and the baking, they’ll discover the best gifts can’t be bought and family celebrations can be reborn.
My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Jennifer Scott and I really enjoyed it. It's the perfect holiday book to really get you in the holiday mood and remind that the holidays isn't always about having that perfect holiday - sometimes it's more about the little things.
The characters in this book really make the story come to life. Bren Epperson is really depressed this year as she struggles with the fact that her adult children are not coming home and her newly-retired husband is still figuring out what to do with all his free-time. Feeling out of sorts, she stumbles upon a holiday cooking class that she somehow manages to agree to teach. While her family certainly does not have traditional fare for the holidays, she still thinks she can bring some fun and unique ideas to the class.
The students in her class are quite a bunch of characters, including her mother and aunt. Oh how they made me laugh! And luckily they were all quite forgiving for the mishaps that occurred in the class - recipes fail, cookies burn, and so on.
But the character that won my heart over completely was Virginia. As soon as we meet her, I just knew there was a story behind all her gruffness and her complaining - and oh my how she complained about everything. She lives above the shop where the cooking class is so you can imagine how every little thing about bother her - the smells, good and bad, the noise - you get the picture.
It's Christmastime and Virginia has managed to put a damper on everyone's holiday spirit - she's shut down the class. But, the class has come up with a plan. Can they shower her with kindness?
Reading this book, I went through a range of emotions - laughing out loud at times, but them tearing up at other moments. It really is a heartwarming holiday read that will make you remember the true meaning of the holiday spirit.
*** Jennifer Scott visited Always With a Book a few weeks ago with a lovely Guest Post called "Merry Stress-Mas!"