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9 brilliant Christmas novels for a winter’s evening

If, like me, you’re dreaming of a Christmas filled with books, films and mince pies, here are some of my favourite Christmas novels for inspiration, both for Christmas gift ideas,and for sitting by the fire with a glass of Bailey’s, with nothing to do but read :)

Three of the best Christmas romance novels

This Time Next Year, by Sophie Cousens

Minnie meets Quinn at a NYE party, and finds they were born in the same place at the same time on New Year’s Eve – and that Quinn has ‘stolen’ the name SHE was supposed to have. I read this novel just recently, and I loved the premise! It’s a mad coincidence, and I admired the way the author flicks back and forward in time, filling in the gaps with plenty more coincidences. Oh, and as well as romance, there are lots of pies, too. Who could ask for more?

helena fairfax, freelance editor, yorkshire

Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess, by Jenni Fletcher

This Mills & Boon novel won the Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel of the Year Award at the annual Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards. 2020 was a dismal year, but books like these helped me through it. There’s a snowstorm, a marriage of convenience, a spirited heroine and a brooding hero – all my favourite tropes realistically drawn to make a page-turning and charming read.

helena fairfax, freelance editor, yorkshire

A Kiss for Midwinter, by Courtney Milan

I loved Milan’s The Duchess War, which is Book One in her Brothers’ Sinister series. The heroine, Minerva, is a ‘quiet, bespectacled wallflower’, and the story is original and engaging. This is a follow-up novella featuring Minerva’s best friend, Lydia Charingford. I haven’t read this particular book in the series, but if it’s anything like her others, it will be the perfect read for a Christmas evening.

Three of the best mystery novels for Christmas
helena fairfax, freelance editor, yorkshire

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie murder mysteries are made for Christmas. Hercule Poirot is a guest in an English country house. (First mistake: never invite Hercule Poirot to your house in the country. Murder is bound to follow!) He wakes up to find a sinister message waring him to avoid eating the Christmas pudding. That would be Christmas ruined right there for me, but Poirot goes on to rescue the season with his usual aplomb.

helena fairfax, freelance editor, yorkshire

Duck the Halls, by Donna Andrews

I’ve never read any of Donna Andrews’ novels, but a friend recommended her Meg Manslow series to me. In this novel, besides dealing with murder, ‘someone has rigged a cage full of skunks in the Baptist church choir loft’. Manslow asks the question on everyone’s lips: ‘Who has the time during the busy holiday season to herd animals?’ This isn’t the first in the series, but can apparently be read as a standalone. I downloaded it because I loved the title and I’m a sucker for a pun.

Whiteout, by Ragnar Jonasson

Completely different in style is this Icelandic thriller. I’ve read several Jonasson novels, and I particularly love his descriptions. Iceland is a place I’d love to visit. (I’m hoping it’s not as full of murderers as Jonasson’s novels would suggest.) In this novel: ‘Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop?’ A spooky winter setting which I’m looking forward to visiting from the comfort of my own home.

Three of the best classic Christmas novels

Little Women, Louise M. Alcott

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without revisiting Louisa M. Alcott’s classic novel. This was the first book my mum ever bought for herself with her own money, in 1940, aged twelve. It was also the only book in her house, and she read it over and over again. It’s a testament to the novel and its author that the March sisters still have so much appeal today. (I also very much enjoyed the 2019 film adaptation, and especially the fabulous clothes.)

helena fairfax, freelance editor, yorkshire

Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore

I first read this book as a teenager. It’s set in the 17th century and was published in the 19th century. It’s an absolutely thrilling read. I particularly love the blizzard on Exmoor, in which ‘all the world is white with snow’, and a gripping sled ride across a frosty landscape in which the hero and heroine escape the clutches of the evil Doone family.

It’s a completely page-turning story. My one caveat with the novel (and it’s a big one, as with so many of the time) is that the women are forced into such a passive role. I’d love someone to write the book again: Lorna Doone, from Lorna Doone’s actual point of view, making her the heroine of her own destiny. But with the star-crossed lovers, the upstanding hero, the dastardly villain, and the wonderful descriptions, it makes a wonderful Christmas read.

helena fairfax, freelance editor, yorkshire

Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson is a genius author for children. Her books are some of the books I had as a child that have stayed with me as an adult. Like the best children’s authors, she’s not afraid to write about the world being a terrifying place, and scaring the crap out of you. In this book, Moomintroll wakes up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. He can’t wake his mum up, either, and he’s all alone. From this scary start, he acts with courage and resolution, going out to explore the strange snowy world outside, and making friends, and having adventures. Books are the perfect way for children to explore their fears in safety, and this book, with its gentle ending, makes for a wonderful read in the spirit of Christmas.

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helena fairfax, miss moonshine

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Christmas selection! If you’d like one more to add to the list, to make the 9 into a satisfying, round 10, Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium is an anthology of stories by nine of us authors in the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The stories revolve around a mysterious and magical shop owner called Miss Moonshine, who has the knack of providing visitors with exactly what they need. Our latest review calls it: ‘Uplifting, magic. Wonderful!!!…It will cheer anyone up, even in the darkest times.’ Christmas magic, indeed!

And if you’re looking for another uplifting read, new subscribers to my newsletter receive a copy of the uplifting novel The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim. And I’ll be giving away another of my favourite classic novels with my Christmas newsletter. Subscribe here now to be sure of your copy!

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Do you have a favourite Christmas read? What books do you have on your Christmas wish list? If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

14 thoughts on “9 brilliant Christmas novels for a winter’s evening

  1. A nice variety. Agatha Christie’s Christmas Pudding and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women are two of my favourite classics. I really like the older movies of them, with the costumes and settings and ways of speaking, transporting you into a different era for a couple of hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Pearl, I love the way they transport you, too! I didn’t know the Christmas Pudding story had been made into a film, but I just looked it up now and it’s called The Theft of the Royal Ruby in the TV version. I’ve loved the recent BBC Agatha Christie adaptations, too. I hope there’s another this Christmas – but I guess with this year’s restrictions, that may not happen. At least we’ll always have books! I’m glad you enjoyed my selection. Thanks so much for your comment. Happy reading! x

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  3. Hey, Helena. Eclectic list. My favorite book of all time is Little Women. It’s the only book I’ve re-read several times. Love the old movie. Not so much the most recent one. They miscast the professor. Very troubling. I’ve also seen a musical and was delightfully surprised at what a good job they did. The Littlest Angel is one of my favorites. I’ve frequently read it out loud for some group or other, but always have to read it a bunch before hand to get over the lump in my throat this sweet story always produces. My mother was a real fan of Agatha Christie. I’ve shared. :)

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    1. Hi Marsha, yes, the professor in the new film was completely different to the book. I took my mum to see it and she didn’t like the way it wasn’t told in chronological order. I really liked the four sisters, though, and Jo carried it for me. (And I already mentioned the outfits! :) )
      I’ve never read The Littlest Angel. I’ll add it to my list to read this Christmas! Thanks very much for dropping in, and for sharing. Happy reading!

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  4. End of Term – one of Antonia Forest’s Marlows series – has the most wonderful Christmas play. Really atmospheric. And there are some lovely Christmas scenes in Noel Streatfeild’s books, too. I love the carol singers in Ballet Shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never read any of the Antonia Forest books. I’ve just checked them out and they look just my cup of tea. How did I manage to miss them? They seem to be out of print at the moment, but your comment has led me to this wonderful site https://www.ggbp.co.uk/about-us/ Girls Gone By seem to be republishing a lot of old favourites! I adored Noel Streatfield, too, and still have a couple from childhood days. Thanks so much for your comment, and the recommendation. I look forward to reading my first Antonia Forest!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They’re ridiculously difficult to get hold of! Autumn Term, the first one, is widely available second hand in a Faber Children’s Classics edition, but the rest are trickier. Personally, I’ve signed up to the GGBP newsletter, and pounce whenever they announce a new reprint.

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  5. Never knew Agatha Christie had written a novel called THE ADVENTURE OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING… Only smart remark I can think of is that Christie is also my surname, and I spent a couple of winters in a stately home, but nobody got murdered.

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  6. Haha! You had a lucky escape, James! That’s good you share the same name as Agatha Christie. Your books will be next to hers in the library :)
    The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding is a short story, rather than a novel. Ideal reading for an evening. Thanks very much for dropping in, and for your comment!

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  7. Moomins, always, but you have one of my favourites already…
    Presumably I’m allowed The Children of Green Knowe, including the now extraordinary detail of a seven year old travelling alone by train. I found this far stranger than the presence of Tolly’s child ancestors ( don’t mention the Plague!)
    And Feste the ghost horse
    The Box of Delights too, ideally, Masefield’s original, not the abbreviated version, though I love the TV film – found a copy in a charity shop, just before Lockdown 2. .
    – including the music,

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  8. Hi Esther, you’ve reminded me of some more childhood favourites. I loved The Children of Green Knowe, too – and The Box of Delights also starts with a boy travelling alone by train, and meeting some very nasty people! I loved the TV series. It was really atmospheric. That was a great find. Now I’d really like to watch it again. Thanks for the reminder of some great Christmas treats!

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