At Christmastime, I’m often known as Scrooge, not Deb. Yes, really - Scrooge with a capital S. Santa, tinsel and carols do nothing for me, I’m afraid (okay, so turkey, roaring fire and a chocolate or ten go down well – but I can have them in any calendar month, so what’s so special about December, I ask you!). Ahh...admitting and putting it out there does feel better! Therapy needed, anyone?!
A large part of this Scrooge-ness results from having worked in retail for so many years: Christmas is a 3-day luxury for everyone else, but a 4-month nightmare for us retailers. Try feeling festive when you’re listening to (badly sung!) Christmas tunes in sunny, sultry September; being yelled at about sales targets and improving profits with no genuine focus from those-on-high for helping people find that special, bespoke present; or working till 8pm on Christmas Eve setting the sale up, then being back in at 8am on Boxing Day to welcome the customers, who’re all those other people who’ve had a decent holiday but don’t want to do anything other than shop (meaning we have to work, to be there to serve them, you see)... You get my Scrooge-sense loud and clear, I’m sure.
But this year, I am reformed. Yes, really*. And the beginning of this reform is down to a fab book I read while on my holiday in Paris. It’s called Miracle on Regent Street, and is a fabulous fun book by former Glamour magazine features editor Ali Harris.
A few days before flying away, I’d been browsing in Tesco (not that I want to add to their world domination by further advertising them, but I can’t help where I shop out of convenience... Bad, bad, lazy me, I know!) for a book to take to Paris; you know, a travel book. Bet you do it too – choose a light, easily but well written story that will put a smile on your face, and which also, somehow, just ‘fits’ your destination. And at £2.99** I couldn’t resist – and now I’ve enjoyed the book, I’d gladly pay the jacket price of £6.99 if I was to buy it again (for a Christmas present, maybe – but who could the lucky person be?!) The blurb on the back captures the story quicker and better than I could, so here it is:
For the past two years, Evie Taylor has lived an invisible existence in London, a city she hoped would bring sparkle to her life. But all that is about to change. For winter had brought a flurry of snow and unexpected possibilities.
Hidden away in the basement of Hardy’s – once London’s most elegant department store – Evie manages the stockroom of a shop whose glory days have long since passed. When Evie overhears that Hardy’s is at risk of being sold, she secretly hatches a plan. If she can reverse the store’s fortunes by December 26th – three weeks away – and transform it into a magical destination once again, she might just be able to save it. But she’s going to need every ounce of talent and determination she has. In fact, she’s going to need a miracle.
So, a Christmassy-warm story set stubbornly at Christmas and IN a shop (of all places!)...and I LOVED it! Scrooge no longer, I scored it a 9 and ½ out of 10 in my Reading Journal (and only a select few make a 10, don’cha know!).
Miracle on Regent Street really is ‘an utterly magical novel full of heart, soul and bags of seasonal spirit’, as the blurb says, making me feel all warm and cosy, just like you should feel at Christmas (although I often don’t). I found it to be a heart-warming, hopeful and happy story... with stylish sass and a bite of surprise too! It is well-written with excellent characterisation, fabulous descriptions of the vintage clothes and products that feature in Evie’s masterplan, as well as exploring what really makes a good friendship.
Be your own Father Christmas (and where did the name ‘Santa’ come from anyway? Grr... Oh dear, I feel a bit funny all of a sudden... Dr Deb and Mr Scrooge, anyone?!) and buy yourself A Miracle on Regent Street as a gift RIGHT NOW! And when you finish reading it, perhaps you’ll be impatiently waiting for Ali Harris’ next book just like me, or maybe you’ll even be joining me down at Hardy’s in the New Year to see if we can get a job there too...
*Okay, so only a little bit. But it’s enough! Our store not being open on Boxing Day (whoop, whoop!) helps, as does having three days off together (almost unheard of in retail schedules!) starting today, as well as my general relaxed attitude this year (“Christmas? What’s that? Never mind, I’ll just sleep instead,”) explains all you need to know! Perhaps my true nature is some kind of hibernating bear...
**Hold your horses now and don’t cause a stampede down to Tesco – even if it’s still on their book shelves, you can bet it won’t be such a price-steal anymore! Sorry for rubbing it in...