ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Christmas at Emmerdale by Pamela Bell #12DaysofChristmas #BlogTour @Trapeze Books
I’m delighted to be taking part in the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour today. There are lots of lovely Trapeze books being featured so do follow the tour. I’ve read The After Wife and The Craftsman and can highly recommend both of those.
So, back to my stop. I’m reviewing Christmas at Emmerdale by Pamela Bell today. My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the place on the tour and to the publishers for sending me a copy for review purposes.
A wonderful Christmas gift for fans of ITV’s Emmerdale and readers who love heartwarming and heartbreaking stories set in wartime.
August 1914, and a terrible war begins, one that will affect the lives of everyone in the village of Beckindale. For Maggie Sugden, left to run Emmerdale Farm on her own while her husband, Joe, is at the front, it will bring grief and loss but also independence and the chance to find a place to belong – and perhaps even to love again.
Christmas At Emmerdale is the first in a sweeping new saga series, exploring the lives of Emmerdale’s much-loved families during the run up to the Great War.
I do love a good saga and that’s what Christmas at Emmerdale is. Although there’s obviously a link to the famous soap, this is also just a cracking good story in its own right, so if you’re a fan of the soap then great and if not then that’s also great.
The story revolves mainly around two women: Maggie Sugden and Rose Haywood. In 1914 Maggie has just married Joe Sugden. A brute of a man, she only married him because her father was ill and, having sold their family home, they needed somewhere to go. That somewhere is Emmerdale Farm. Rose is the vicar’s daughter, 18 and desperate to have a life away from the overbearing ways of her father.
There are many other characters too, some with recognisable names such as Dingle and Skilbeck. All help to convey that village feel, where everyone knows each other and all the gossip. There’s a busybody in Ava Bainbridge, wife of the landlord of the Woolpack Inn and then there’s Lord and Lady Miffield of Miffield Hall, whose house is requisitioned as a hospital, not forgetting the other colourful people whose individual stories make up the whole.
The book concentrates around the first year or so of World War One and so many of the menfolk from the village go off to war. It was heartbreaking to read of the casualties – small villages did suffer so badly. Maggie is left to run the farm by herself, a task that nobody thinks she is up to, but they haven’t bargained for her tenacity and her hard working nature. I loved Maggie and was absolutely rooting for her all the way through. I also really took to Rose and think she’s going to enjoy the next part of her life.
There’s a real sense of community, although Maggie has to work to be a part of it. I was moved by the terrible consequences of the war but yet the Yorkshire grit came through and everyone rallied round. Pamela Bell has a lovely warmth to her writing and I didn’t want to put this book down. It really was a pleasure to read.
The title of the book mentions Christmas and we do experience an Emmerdale Christmas but it’s by no means a book that can only be read at Christmas (just saying in case you want to put it on your Christmas list!). It’s a warm, spirited, moving story of the effects of war, life in a small village, friendship, love and loss. Perfect for lovers of the well-known soap and those who have never watched it, I highly recommend having Christmas at Emmerdale this year. Oh, and it’s book one in a trilogy and I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on book two, Spring Comes to Emmerdale, to find out what happens to Maggie and Rose next.
Pamela Bell began writing over 30 years ago to fund a PhD on the disposal of waste in the late medieval and early modern city, and has juggled fact and fiction ever since. As Pamela Hartshorne or Jessica Hart, she has written over 70 books, including novels and non-fiction across a wide range of subjects, from car distribution to royal palaces and from category romance to historical fiction. Pamela lives in York and continues to be fascinated by the relationship between the past and the present, whatever she happens to be writing.