Hey guys, it’s Friday 13th but it’s a great day for us since we’re having lovely Jenny Hale with us. YAY! Jenny is the author of ‘Coming Home For Christmas’, a fantastic festive book which we read in September (yes, we’re very devoted bloggers:)) and you can check out our review here. As you see we absolutely LOVED IT and were over the moon when Jenny accepted to be our guest during our Christmas Feature. Welcome Jenny, the stage is yours.:)
For me, the most important part of Christmas is family. So what does Christmas with the family look like in Virginia?
In Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains, about three hours’ drive from my home, there is a river called the James River that flows all the way down to the Chesapeake Bay. It was along the banks of this river that, over 400 years ago, the first English settlement was formed. I live with my husband, two boys, and my dog about an hour’s drive from there. Colonial history and customs are still alive in my part of Virginia.
The day after Thanksgiving, when all the many dishes of southern food have been put away, and the leaves on the trees are still golden, I do with my own children what my mother did with me: we go upstairs in the attic and pull out the Christmas decorations. A wreath of pine and berries, large enough to almost cover the width of the front door is placed outside to welcome holiday visitors. It’s common in Virginia to see white candles in every window of our homes, many of which are built in the traditional brick or clapboard siding that can be seen in its original form in Colonial Williamsburg about an hour away. On the banisters of our long front porches and inside on our stairways, we hang greenery and ribbon.
Christmas music jingles through the house as we erect a large Christmas tree in the corner of our living room. The children help me test the lights before stringing them on the tree. Then, we place red, and green, and glass ornaments on the branches and an angel on top. A deep red tree skirt circles the bottom, and, around that, we put a track and a shiny Christmas train. This begins the excitement of the season. To mark the days, the children run every morning to an advent calendar made of tiny, wooden boxes. In each box, I place two candies, and every December day until Christmas, the boys get to open a numbered box to discover their treat.
A yearly tradition, we build a gingerbread house together, trying our best to keep enough candy to decorate the house while the children nibble on the house’s wares. Our home is filled with the aroma of cookies baking at this time of year. We make an assortment of cookies and treats to give to our neighbors in bright gift bags just as they do for us. And we are always sure to save a few for Santa. (My husband will pick out the ones that he thinks Santa would like the best.)
As the days pass, we wrap our presents in Christmas paper and satin ribbons and place them under the tree. I put their name tags on the back of each gift to keep it a surprise until Christmas morning when my two little boys drag us downstairs before dawn, all of us in our flannel pajamas and wooly socks.
The four of us live outside the city of Richmond in a county that has its share of rolling hills and winding roads not unlike the scenery surrounding the Ashford estate. In Coming Home for Christmas, perhaps you’ll find where I’ve hidden a few of our family traditions, some of the sights of the area, and two little boys who seem a whole lot like my two boys. Thank you for sharing in my family Christmas. I hope you enjoy the Marley family’s in Coming Home for Christmas. Happy Holidays.
About Jenny Hale
When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.
Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.
While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result is Coming Home for Christmas – a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas.
I am currently at work on my second novel, also under contract.
When I’m not writing, I’m a District Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages, a mother of two boys, and a wife to a very supportive husband.
WOW, what a brilliant and warm Christmas story! I first heard about this book on twitter and was really excited to read it. So many of my friends out there were already on a search for some great Christmas stories (yes, in September) and all of them were talking about this debut. After checking the blurb I was certain I was going to enjoy it. After all, I’m a huge sucker for Christmas reads and romance stories. BUT, ‘Coming Home for Christmas’ exceeded my expectations! It’s a beautiful story that will warm your heart and instantly get you in festive mood. Don’t believe me? Read on…
The story is centered around Allie, who just lost her job and moved back with her parents in Virginia where she needs to start from scratch. Her sister Megan tells her she has a client who is offering the perfect job – living in a dream mansion and being the in-house manager of the Ashford house.It’s not really Allie’s dream job but after much convincing from her sister, she finally decides to take it. The Ashford house belongs to the wealthy but pretty much disjointed Marley family. Though beautiful and huge, the house is nothing but a weight to Robert Marley and the main reason why he wants to sell it. For handsome but stubborn Robert, the house is just a reminder of the great tragedy that ruined the lives of the Marleys. After meeting the rest of the Marleys, Allie finds out she has more important things than manage a household. Could it be she has the chance to bring back a family together?
OMG, there are just so so many things I loved about this book.
First, the characters! Guys, let me tell you, I’ve read so many books yet I can’t actually recall reading a book with so many loveable characters. Strange but true! I’m usually pleased when I get to connect with one or two of them, but Jenny Hale did it! She made me care for all of her characters who were brilliantly portrayed. Honestly, I can’t make up my mind who I love more, Allie, Robbert, old and oh so wise Pippa or Kip the flirt? I can’t decide no matter how hard I try, they are all memorable and lovely. Even Robert, the biggest Scrooge in modern history made me fall for him despite his stubbornness and attitude.
But what I loved the most is probably the fact this is not yet another romance story. Coming Home For Christmas is a mesmerizing story about what really matters in life – family. The big tragedy that torn the Marleys apart was definitely the most emotional part and as much as I tried, I couldn’t help but shed few tears. Marleys have their ups and downs and despite being incredibly rich and disjointed at the beginning, you can feel they deeply care about each other. They are not snobbish (though one would expect that) and despite being so rich, they respect their employees, which made me love them even more.
The romance part was gradually built, and that’s just another thing that made this book feel more real. Coming Home For Christmas is definitely a warm and beautiful read. With Christmas coming soon, I think it’s the PERFECT time to read it. Strongly recommended for all HEAs addicts:)
My rating: 4/5