Sunday Book Club: Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

After a string of rather good luck with chick lit, I knew I was bound for a terrible one – and it happens to be this Christmas in London by Anita Hughes. I’ve never read anything from this author before and I thought the synopsis sound interesting and would be a nice fluffy read in the bath. Christmas in London – how could anything with that title go really bad?

But bad it was. It was supposed to be a love story in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and a cooking show assistant who could change her life. But in reality, it was an utterly hopeless book with a wonderful synopsis that brought my expectations up with promises of romance in London with delicious treats only to bring me down with terrible characterization, ridiculous plot setting, and awful conversations.

I’ve recently fallen in love with my local library – I recently found out that it was no longer an antiquated building with old smelly books but has been revamped and is now filled with beautiful and brand new books. I got this from the library so I didn’t have to pay a single cent but I see it selling on Amazon at US$9.99 for the Kindle version.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

Louisa Graham is a passionate baker whose dream is to set up her own restaurant. She is sent to London to star in a glamourous cooking show Christmas Dinner at the Claridge’s after production assistant Noah impressed everyone on set with her cinnamon rolls (and a little accident that caused the main cook to have to drop out).

Much to Louisa’s joy, Digby Bunting – a handsome celebrity chef – has invited her to his Master Class. But Noah believes that Digby is interested only in getting into Louisa’s pants. Louisa doesn’t believe Noah, and thinks that Digby truly believes in her as a chef – and her career is more important; this drives a wedge between Louisa and Noah, who had proclaimed that he has fallen in love with her.

Digby invites Louisa to prepare a Christmas lunch together in Yardley Manor and appear on Town & Country, and Louisa goes despite warnings from Noah and the fact that it is on the same day as the cooking show. But we find out that he really does have other ideas and made moves towards her. Strangely, the whole family is out for brunch and all the cars and phones are not working, so Louisa is stranded in Yardley Manor.

On the other end, there’s Kate, the production producer, who has put her career first. But she meets Trevor in London and past emotions comes back fresh. Trevor was the love that she let down during her days at St Andrew’s because of a misunderstanding between them with her other ex-boyfriend Ian. Trevor is going through a divorce, and they strike up a romance again. However, during a date, they meet Ian coincidentally. Trevor decides he can’t continue to be with Kate because he cannot risk Kate breaking his heart again.

In the end, Kate explains to Trevor that what happened at St Andrew’s was a total misunderstanding and that Trevor never gave her a chance to explain and should give them a chance now, which he accepts. Noah and Kate finds out that Louisa is at Yardley Manor, and Kate and Trevor races down to bring her back in time for the show. Louisa and Noah make up when they both realised that they are in love with each other and love is more important than anything else. And it ends happily ever after.

Final Thoughts

I think the only redemption for the book is the descriptions of the food. That is really the only highlight of the book for me. I love eating and I love baking, and I love thinking about all sorts of food – the descriptions of the food and the scenery building was done quite well.

I really disliked the conversations between the characters – they sound very forced and contrived. One of the most annoying thing to me is when conversations are so fake and unnatural that you can’t imagine anyone saying it, and it does not flow. I just want to whack the author on her head for writing such terrible conversations! The women are so stupid and annoying. The author has portrayed Louisa as a complete neanderthal with an emotional quotient of a teenage girl whereas Kate has a very forgettable character.

The men in this book are also complete losers – Noah is super jealous, Trevor is apparently a very smart man with a stunted emotional side. I guess their behaviour is supposed to be romantic or show that they are so in love with the women, but it was awful, unreal, and extremely creepy (imagine a man being so in love with you within seven days that he becomes ridiculously possessive and protective – it is called crazy, not love). It’s very annoying and very childish, and they all seem to get angry over absolutely nothing at all.

I hate this book. Hate is a very strong word, but I couldn’t find any other word for it. Even for a chick lit, which means I have already lowered my literary bar way down when I’m judging it, it’s terrible. None of the characters are lovable, everyone sounds incredibly stupid and gets angry over absolutely nothing, and the plot had more holes than swiss cheese. There was nothing magical about this book or the love story and I would recommend avoiding it.

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