Weaving my way through motherhood whilst trying not to mess up adulthood.

The Winter Children-Lulu Taylor

Olivia and Dan Felbeck are blissfully happy when their longed-for twins arrive after years of IVF. At the same time, they make the move to Renniston Hall, a huge, Elizabethan house that belongs to absent friends. Living rent-free in a small part of the unmodernised house, once a boarding school, they can begin to enjoy the family life they've always wanted. But there is a secret at the heart of their family, one that Olivia does not yet know. And the house, too, holds its darkness deep within it . . .

I never judge a book by it's cover but rather the first page and from the moment I settled into reading Lulu Taylor's The Winter Children I was transported into a world of deceit, forbidden love and suspense. An easy read, with words that flow so effortless off the page that for an hour or two I completely forgot where I was and instead became entwined with the lives of Olivia, Dan and Francesca.

From the beginning we find out one of the deepest secrets, something I have never experienced in a novel before, so throughout reading the novel I felt like a nosy neighbour who already knows too much but yet still wants to find out more.  The past of 1950 Renniston hall is merged into the now of Olivia and Dan's story and with each page I turned I would wonder which world I was looking into. We are introduced to new characters whose lives are plagued with the same dark romance as the present counterparts . I didn't find it jarring the switch in tenses or that it interrupted the pace although it could have easily been a stand alone novel.If anything I couldn't wait to revisit the boarding school and discover its history and the fate of its pupils.

Lulu Taylor writes her characters with a realistic notion it would be easy to find an Olivia in your local Costa, Francesca strolling through Harrods and Dan who I liked the least showing off about nothing worth talking about to a bored recipient. When I'd closed the book I felt myself really thinking about each one of the characters past and present, trying to understand their plights and wondering what I would have done in each situation. I felt the deepest sympathetic connection to Francesca, a woman who has a life of  handsome outfits and champagne balls but who chooses instead to  latch on to the the Felbeck's new family....

You will have to let me know if you agree and what you think of The Winter Children, a thrilling, suspense filled, twisted romantical novel that I definitely recommend. It is best accompanied by a cosy blanket and a mug of something warm...hot chocolate was my pick.

The Winter Children by Lulu Taylor

Thank you to Mumsnet  and Pan Macmillan for providing me with a copy of  the novel in return for an honest review.

Dear Santa, hold off on the brussel sprout farts

Dear Santa,

In less than a month you will collect your red suit from the dry cleaners, give your beard a trim, nothing too drastic  just a little tidy up-of course whilst you wait for your elves to dust off your sleigh and load the boot( do sleighs have boots?)  With all the brand new toys and books and gizmo's and gadgets for all the children who still believe in your magic.

I am excited for your arrival, I always have been, I could have sworn that I heard the faint jingle of bells as your sleigh flew over my house when I was younger and I was amazed that you knew the exact doll I wanted having just seen it in the shop the week before.  Your apologetic letter when you ran out of wrapping paper has never been forgotten especially as you have the best handwriting ever! And even now, as the official countdown begins my little Lei can’t wait for her stocking to be filled, especially as you never miss out the rice cakes that she loves so much!

Now,  when you visit the houses and you drink your belly full in milk or something a little bit stronger  and you leave your cookie crumbs on the table and let your reindeer nibble at the carrots before you leave in your obvious tell-tale trail of snowy footprints, can you tell me why I didn’t make your Christmas list?

Oh, I know I’m too old to believe, but I do and if I squeeze my eyes really tight and say I do believe a few more times, I’m positive a couple of fairies will regain their long lost wings. But this isn’t about fairies, it’s about you and me Santa....baby.

I’m not asking for much, and I have been an awful good girl this year, mostly...okay I haven’t folded the laundry straight away and have left it to resemble a clothes store sale rack and I’ve let Lei watch way too many episodes of Dora and Friends oh and if we wanna count that one time after a night-shift I overslept and missed the school run but I’m sure when you check your list twice, you will see that I’m not too much of a rotten egg.
So here's my list, I'll keep it short

  • Ban Musical Instruments :Two years ago Lei got a drum set for Christmas. Oh she had such fun, oh she made a racket oh I hated those drums!!  But what took the piss was the generous giver of such present gave it in the knowledge that it would do my head in! So please, no toys that can create a constant musical noise with no off switch!
  • No Cooking disasters : I love baking at Christmas, you should know as I've left you a slice of my Christmas cake last year. However, I can't quite master cookies. They either all merge into one giant biscuit that has to be scraped off the bottom of the tray or taste off- Not cool!
  • 10 more minutes sleep: On Christmas morning I will be bleary eyed and giddy with excitement and exhaustion  as I watch Lei open her presents, so a lie in on Boxing day will be perfect, please.
  • Hold off on the Brussel sprout farts: I don't fart, no I  really don't...not when I'm aware anyway and definitely not by force! So you should know Santa darling, that those induced by little cabbages and done by my dinner guests make me just that bit queasy.
  • Thou shall not procrastinate:  Honestly...if you have a solution I will leave you an extra mince pie
  • Christmas and Chill: When all the food and drink has been drunk and everyone is slumped on the sofa full of gammon and merriment it would be perfect for us to all stay awake to watch Christmas television or  movies without falling asleep...perhaps you should take special note of my request for more sleep!

I think Santa, this must be your easiest list to date, but if it's too much then honestly don't stress. I'll just do your job for ya, because seriously...how hard is it to nibble a carrot, drink some milk( or something stronger) leave a trail of crumbs from a mince pie and fill a stocking with pressies or grant a mum a lie in on Boxing day?

With lots of Christmas cheer and extra tinsel on top

Jade Priscilla

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