Chloe, Jules, and Lucy meet at a Maui resort kids’ club, aged 11, forging a lifelong friendship spanning two decades and three continents.
Twenty-two years later, they decide to swap Christmases, none of them expecting the hilarity and romantic escapades that will ensue.
Chloe from Melbourne spends her Christmas with Lucy’s mum and dad in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England, stunned to the core when she discovers who grew up across the road from Lucy.
Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.
And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend a balmy ‘Orphan’s Christmas’ with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away from her mundane life is just what she needed.
Join these three lovable women as they each get a Christmas to surpass their wildest dreams.
A couple of years ago I did a little series of Q&As with authors where we talked about books and Christmas. It was so much fun that this year I’ve decided to bring them back!
First up to chat Christmas with me is the lovely Sandy Barker. Sandy has a new novel out called The Christmas Swap – it has been my favourite Christmassy read so far this year (you can see my review here). Here’s the blurb for The Christmas Swap – read on for our chat.
Chloe, Jules, and Lucy meet at a Maui resort kids’ club, aged 11, forging a lifelong friendship spanning two decades and three continents. Twenty-two years later, they decide to swap Christmases, none of them expecting the hilarity and romantic escapades that will ensue. Chloe from Melbourne spends her Christmas with Lucy’s mum and dad in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire…
I’ve watched The Crown since it started. Until now, season one was my favourite, with Claire Foy doing an exquisite job of portraying the young monarch. Then came season four.
I’m only a few episodes in, but with the incredible Emma Corrin having perfected Princess Diana’s voice, posture, and mannerisms, I’m finding myself overly emotional every time she is on screen.
You see, I loved Diana.
From afar, of course like most people, but she was … I cannot put into words what it was like growing up with her as an icon – of femininity, sure, but also of compassion, bravery, and humanity. She was an extraordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. I admired her and, yes, from afar, I loved her.
I was touring when she died – running a five-week tour for fifty 18-35 year olds and we were in Austria when the news broke the morning after a brilliantly fun dress up party.
This is an excerpt from my travel diary:
The kitchen was oddly quiet, only one rep, John, there preparing breakfast instead of the six or seven I expected. I asked where everyone else was and he casually replied, ‘Oh, haven’t you heard? Diana’s dead.’ Diana, who? I thought.
‘Diana who?’ I voiced aloud, still nowhere near connecting the dots.
‘The Princess.’ He continued his preparations, seemingly unaware of the bombshell he’d just dropped, so I thought he must be joking.
‘That isn’t funny, John.’
He stopped what he was doing and looked at me. ‘No, I’m serious.’
‘Well, you’d better be bloody serious, because I’m about to walk in there and tell fifty people,’ I said, indicating the dining room where my tour group was having breakfast.
‘It’s true, listen.’ He switched on the radio and the announcer was, of course, speaking German, but I could make out, ‘Prinzessin Diana ist tot,’ and had enough of the language under my belt to understand – the language at least. I still couldn’t comprehend the meaning of those words.
I fiddled with the dial on the radio, hoping to find an English speaking station, and finally found the BBC. ‘Diana, Princess of Wales, has been confirmed dead, killed overnight in an automobile accident in a tunnel in Paris.’
Well, there was no mistaking that.
Princess Diana was dead.
Without another thought, I walked through the swinging doors to the dining room and called for quiet, not looking at any of their faces. Some people still spoke, and I shouted, ‘Listen!’ I never spoke to my group like this and the tone of my voice must have conveyed the seriousness of the situation. There was immediate silence.
My eyes locked on the tiled floor, I said, ‘Last night, Princess Diana was in a car accident in Paris. She died.’ No one spoke, or maybe they did, but I choked back a sob and pushed back through the swinging door into the kitchen, vaguely aware that some of the people on my tour followed me, consoling me then crowding around the radio.
My sister! Victoria lived in London and she would be distraught. I needed to call her. It would be expensive, but she’d need me.
My fingers were shaking as I dialled the number and I made a mistake and had to start again. She answered sleepily on the third ring. ‘Hello?’
‘Hi, it’s me. Are you okay?’
‘Yes. Did you call me at 7:30 in the morning just to ask me that?’
She doesn’t know, I thought. ‘Vic, have you heard the news?’
‘What news?’ Oh, god.
‘It’s bad, Vic. Princess Diana died last night.’
Her screams, then her wailing, were so loud I had to hold the phone away from my ear. Tears streamed down my face and I caught the eye of several others who were also crying. I wiped my nose on my sleeve and someone handed me a napkin.
When Vic calmed down enough to talk to me – I could hear the news blaring from her TV in the background – I made her promise to call someone so she wouldn’t be alone and we hung up.
I made my way back into the dining room where someone had turned on the TVs, all tuned to BBC news. Fifty of us – give or take – sat either in silence or sharing quiet murmurs as we watched footage from Paris – the mangled car, the tunnel, and the security footage of Diana and Dodi al Fayed leaving the hotel. And scenes of the thousands of people converging on central London bearing flowers, cards, and signs, and wearing their grief for all to see.
I both could and couldn’t believe it.
The following days of the tour – we were only about 3 weeks in – were spent scouring English newspapers and watching newscasts where possible. As we headed towards the last leg of the tour, I had to tell the same group that Gianni Versace had been murdered outside of his house in Miami, and then on the last day of the tour, that Mother Teresa had died. A few people thought I might be joking – too many sad announcements for the same group – but no.
That day also happened to be the day of the cortege, September 6th. In the late afternoon, as we drove into London, it was like a ghost town. I had never seen the city deserted before and likely wouldn’t again. It was eerie, disturbing, and unsteadying.
At the hotel, we said our goodbyes – for most of us, long and tearful and I felt especially close to this group. Alone in my room, I watched a replay of the full cortege, my heart breaking as I watched 12-year-old Harry and 15-year-old William walking behind their mother’s casket, that handwritten card on top, the envelope reading, ‘Mummy’. Those brave, brave boys.
Why was I so sad? Why had the death of a woman I didn’t know affected me so acutely?
I think it was especially tragic, as she finally seemed happy. She’d endured a trying marriage, and she’d been in the spotlight for her entire adult life, enduring scrutiny and criticism for every move she made. Yet she’d emerged more beautiful than ever, as though a light had been switched on inside her. That she should die at 36, at the beginning of her newfound life, was a cruel twist of fate.
Someone on the tour said, ‘This will be our Kennedy.’ That was true then and still is today.
I am very excited to be part of the cover reveals for Fiona Leitch’s upcoming cosy mystery series with One More Chapter.
Here’s the series blurb
Ex-copper turned caterer Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker returns home to Penstowan, the small seaside town in Cornwall where she grew up, after almost twenty years in London’s Metropolitan Police Force. With her teenage daughter in tow, and her slightly batty mother still living there, Jodie plans on having a quiet life running her new catering business.
But she soon discovers that life in Penstowan is not as quaint (or boring) as she remembers. Missing brides, bodies in the shrubbery, annoying writers pushed off cliffs and movie star madness all conspire to get this not-so-amateur detective back on the case. Helped by her old childhood sweetheart Tony and hunky newcomer, DCI Nathan Withers, not to mention new member of the family Germaine the Pomeranian dog, finding the killer is bound to be a piece of cake. Murder, mayhem and much consuming of pasties will ensue, to prove that when Jodie’s around, murder is always on the menu…
And check out these covers!
I’ve read Murder on the Menu and it is BRILLIANT. You’re gonna love this series. Clever, funny, pacey and yes, even romantic!