My brain needed some reading candy after the grind of The Quincunx and this lovely little book was just the ticket.
Evie Taylor is stuck in life working the stockroom of a fading gem of a department store, Hardy's, after her life is devastated when her boyfriend, Jamie, leaves her. She is drab and invisible. But when the future of Hardy's is threatened with the takeover by the sleek competition, she assembles a merry band of elves from the store's other downtrodden misfits to transform it into a vintage wonderland. she does all this whilst being courted by two very deserving men. Which one is going to win the girl and will the store be transformed in time to escape a hostile takeover?
Like a bag of candy floss, the story was very sweet in places, even corny. I jarred a bit at the stolen line from Pretty Woman when Joel, the suave, debonair, and impossibly perfect American, orders the entire Claridge's breakfast menu when he doesn't know what she wants for breakfast. It would have been ok if the movie had been referenced, but it wasn't.
But there isn't a more perfect love story to get you in the mood for Christmas. I loved all the references to the way London is transformed at Christmas time and I wished for a real store similar to Hardy's so I could go there and do all my Christmas shopping. I particularly enjoyed the critical remark of Regent Street being decorated like one big Disney advert.
I really liked all the characters who worked in the store, even if they were a bit cliched. My favourite characters were the Polish cleaners and their accent. Even the names the author chose for the characters were perfectly ludicrous. I found myself speaking their parts out loud.
There was some timing issues like how Evie was able to get to work at 7 am when she was helping her sister, Delilah, get them ready for school. I don't know about you, but my children get up for school at that time. There is no way they would be up before 6 am. I also found the selfish, self-centeredness and self absorbed side of Evie hard to swallow when she cared so much for everyone at the store. That was of course all explained at the end but it did feel a little too neat and tidy of a sweep under the rug of such brutal treatment of her sister.
Also, the throwaway remark about her sister being diagnosed with depression but still doing a Christmas dinner was caustic to someone who suffers from depression and knows that heating up a pizza is hard work with in the throes of such a debilitating mental illness.
But do NOT let any of that stop you from reading this novel if what you are looking for is something, sweet, short and light with a happy ending all tied up nicely with a bow. Especially over the upcoming holidays. It would make a perfect stocking stuffer for that special woman in your life!