December’s book club pick “Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor” by Lisa Kleypas.
The story is set in San Juan Island, off the Washington coast, and centers on long-time residents, the Nolan family. There are three brothers, Mark, Sam and Alex, and one sister, Victoria. The story starts with Victoria being killed in an auto accident and Mark being left custody of Victoria’s six-year-old daughter, Holly.
Mark and Holly move into Sam’s run-down house on a vineyard, and the two men try to make the most of their new lives. But six months into their guardianship and Holly still hasn’t spoken a word since her mother’s death. That changes when Mark and Holly meet Maggie Collins. Maggie was widowed two years ago, and moved to the island six months ago to open a classic toy-shop.
Maggie Collins – Maggie comes from a big lovable family, has a big heart, is crafty, and is a widow.
Mark Nolan – Mark is the oldest Nolan brother. The family that isn’t all that close until the brothers are forced to raise their niece. He’s really into coffee, loves his niece and living on San Juan Island.
Sam Nolan – Sam is the middle brother and runs a vineyard.
Alex Nolan – Alex is the youngest brother and I believe he’s a contractor. He comes in to help Mark and Sam fix up the house and he’s there for Thanksgiving. He’s married but his marriage is failing.
Holly – Holly’s mother dies and she’s now entrusted into the care of a bachelor uncle and made to move to Friday Harbor. She refuses to talk until she meets Maggie. Then she starts to open up and turns out to be pretty well adjusted.
Renfield – Renfield is a bulldog with some serious issues and while not introduced until later on in the book is by far my favorite character. He’s not pleasant to look at but he doesn’t know that and he just wants to be loved.
I just felt like this book could have been so much more and it fell flat for me. I’ve already forgotten a lot of the story and I just finished the book last night. The story was rushed right along and there wasn’t a lot of time for character development or time to get invested in their lives. It was almost as though the author had written a longer story and cut a lot out to fit it into a pre determined size. This was more a novella than the novel it should have been.
Holly and Renfield were my favorites and it’s only because of them that I’ll probably still read the other books in this series when they come out.
After the book club meeting I think everyone pretty much felt the same way, it was an enjoyable book but it just was missing something and for each of us that “something” was different. I really felt like we spent more time talking about other things than we did talking about the book.