But it’s August!” said Carmen into the phone, putting down her book. “August! It’s almost sunny outside! I have sandals on! Ice- cream vans patrol the land! I put sunblock on last week and almost needed it! How can I possibly get my head round what you’re asking me?”
“I’m just saying,” her mother’s soft voice came again, and Car-men sighed. They had the same tussle every year. “It’s just useful to know early, that’s all. And of course Sofia . . .”
Carmen screwed up her face. “Yes, she’s popping out yet an-other sprog and overpopulating the world, blah blah blah, I know.”
“Carmen June Hogan. Be nice.”
“Come on, Mum. She’s already got three. She’s just being greedy. Anyway, I don’t know what I might be doing at Christmas. I might be going away.”
Who with?” Her mother sounded skeptical.
“I could meet someone between now and Christmas! And he could whisk me off to Barbados! Or LA!”
Her mother smiled. “So you’re not coming home for Christmas because you’ll be in LA.”
“I could be in LA.”
Carmen couldn’t, she thought, be the only person in the world who was both nearly thirty and who still turned into a stroppy teenager when confronted by her mother. ut it was only August. She just didn’t want to think about the summer being over or about another Christmas, sleeping in her old bedroom, which was full of ridiculous junk now that didn’t belong to her— sewing machines and whatnot. Reading all her old paperbacks on the shelf: C. S. Lewis and the Follyfoot and the Dark Is Rising series, seeing as it was Christmas.
Then it would be everyone making the hugest fuss over Sofia’s noisy, bratty children and giving them so much stuff (which al-ways had to be wooden and expensive) that they could barely tear the wrapping from one gift before they dived to the next.
With every passing year too, Sofia’s gifts to the rest of the fam-ily got more and more lavish and expensive, making it more and more apparent who in the family was doing well— and who was still sleeping under her Spice Girls duvet and handing out discounted gifts from the shop she worked in.
Her mother plowed on regardless. “I mean, Sofia wants to show off the new house and won’t want to travel . . . I thought we’d all go to hers and I’d cook . . . ?”
Sofia worked as a lawyer in Edinburgh, a hundred miles away from their dying industrial west- coast Scottish town, and was doing very nicely, thank you, with her handsome international lawyer husband and babies and Range Rovers, blah blah blah. Carmen still worked in the department store she’d had a Saturday job in when she’d been at school. The store was shabby and getting worse all the time. Liter-ally nobody in the family ever brought this up, which made it worse.
As if sensing her thoughts, her mother’s voice lowered. “And how is Dounston’s doing?”
Carmen understood, although she hated the tone. “Well . . . we’ll be doing better by Christmas,” she said, and both of them desperately tried to believe it.
(c) Jenny Colgan, William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2021. Shared with permission from the publisher.
Perfect for the holidays! A brand-new heartwarming Christmas novel from the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner and Christmas at the Island Hotel.
Laid off from her department store job, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. The prospect of spending Christmas with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered yuppie life does not appeal.
Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want her prickly sister Carmen there either. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs help revitalizing his shabby old bookshop. So Carmen moves in and takes the job.
Thrown rather suddenly into the inner workings of Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the picturesque streets of historic Edinburgh, Carmen is intrigued despite herself. The store is dusty and disorganized but undeniably charming. Can she breathe some new life into it in time for Christmas shopping? What will happen when a famous and charismatic author takes a sudden interest in the bookshop—and Carmen? And will the Christmas spirit be enough to help heal her fractured family?
Romance Holiday | Holiday [William Morrow Paperbacks, On Sale: October 26, 2021, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780063141674 / eISBN: 9780063141681]
A Wonderful Holiday Story!
Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.
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