31 Dec 2022



Not only the last two 'Christmas' reads of 2022 but also the last two reads of the year as a whole.


Sally's voice is drowned out by the whistle of the winter wind, but she carried on, ringing her hand bell and calling 'Any old rags and bones?'

Paradise Row, London. December 1865.

Snow is falling fast and Sally Suggs is working tirelessly to bring in enough money to keep bread on the table. Her father, a skilled rag-and-bone man, has fallen ill and now Sally has taken up his trade.

But this is a man’s world and competition is fierce, and Sally’s rival Finn Kelly always seems to be one step ahead. Her family’s one valuable possession is their horse, Flower, yet with no one to protect them, London’s underbelly of black-market traders circle closer.

Sally needs to find help in the most unexpected places if they are to survive… ... Back Cover Blurb

A so-so story. At 500+ pages longer than the average novel of its sort and arguably too long, it was certainly overly drawn out in places. 

Repetitive in places, in others, frustratingly and, on occasion, laughably implausible; quite how Sally's mother came to have a thoroughbred Andalusian horse ... Hmm! Something that was never explained, it niggled at the back of my mind throughout the reading of the book. That Sally is supposedly destitute and on the verge of becoming homeless and yet always has money to feed all these waifs and strays, yet another one of those things that I found myself pondering throughout; that the 'commoners' seemly mix social {and often on a level with} not just the landed gentry but lords, another one. And yet ...

Rated ****, 'I really liked it', on GoodReads, I found this book so easy to escape into, on top of which, where the characters.

OK, so they weren't always believable, indeed I found some of them caricatures, their actions, not something I'd have expected of them as individuals and certainly not something I'd have expected of someone of their gender/class and yet, for all of that, highly readable, I found myself inordinately caught up in the lives of Sally and co.


Alone at Christmas - will she find somewhere to call home?

As Christmas approaches, seventeen-year-old runaway Kathleen stumbles through the snow, alone and about to give birth. But when she's carried to safety by a mysterious figure, her life is set on a new path ...

Welcomed by the Mason family at Home Farm, Kathleen believes she may have finally found a safe place to raise her new born child. But her past cannot be forgotten and no matter how hard her new family tries, she has secrets she refuses to share.

Will Home Farm be the safe haven Kathleen has been searching for? And will a chance at love allow her to finally break free of her past? ... Back Cover Blurb

Given that the plot followed main character, Kathleen, from aged 15 through to her mid 40's I would have thought that the book warranted more than its 373 pages. That it didn't; that it meant that the deaths of two of the main characters {who considering their significance to the plot, were worthy of more than this} were passed with, to my mind, very little comment was disappointing.

One of those novels I feel I've read many times before, reading The Winter Baby I felt as if I was {at least} one step ahead of the plot all the way through. However for me the main bone of contention had to be that, whilst acknowledging things were very different then, I felt that the story was woefully let down by the woman after woman; by Kathleen, by Marion, by Jessie, by Mrs Amos, by Heather, who unrealistically fell in love with and married the 'easiest contender', with men who quite literally happened to be there on their doorsteps ready for the picking as it were.

This said, an easy enough read, rich in historical context, I thought it an OK read.

Other 'Christmas' novels this winter ...

  1. A Mother's Christmas Wish by Glenda Young
  2. Agatha Raisin And Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M.C. Beaton
  3. Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen


Kelly said...

Interesting that you felt one was too long, and the other not quite long enough. I'm not sure either is calling out to me. I only read one holiday themed novel this year and it quite fit the bill for me.

I wish you and Mr. T a very happy new year and a happy, healthy 2023!

p.s. My daughter said they read their son the book I gave him about the teatime puppy last night and he really enjoyed it! Thanks for reviewing it!

nightwingsaven said...

After reading your reviews of these
two books, I am very uncertain if I
would appreciate them. But as always
I appreciated your honest and excellent
And thank you for your New Year's wishes.
I would like to wish to Mr. T. and you all
the best for 2023!

DMS said...

Sometimes a book grabs me and I enjoy it even when it isn't believable! Great to read your thoughts on both books. Thanks for sharing. :)

Becky boo said...

I adore this writer and loved your reveiw.