#12 Books of Christmas - The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
Welcome to Day 3 of #12 Books of Christmas
Day 1 - Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Day 2 - The Box of Delights by John Masefield
If someone were to ask me to recommend a great Christmas fiction author, then with no hesitation I would recommend Karen Swan. She usually releases books twice a year; in the summer comes the perfect beach read featuring a glamorous warm location, in winter come the Christmassy reads (also featuring an equally glamorous but cold location). The Christmas covers are always stunning - think an icy, winter palette and a landscape featuring a girl in a red coat with her back to you. It's distinctive and beautiful and leads me to say that the cover artists definitely are on point with these books.
Influencers Bo and Zac live their lives travelling the world, having extreme adventures and visiting all the places where the tourists are not. Which is why they find themselves, with their photographer, Lenny, on a Norwegian shelf farm on the side of a mountain with the most basic of facilities. They rent their cabin from 96 year old Signy, who remembers the day the mountain fell in 1936, destroying her village.
As Bo and Zac's influencer life starts to consume them, Bo begins to ask what is real and what is fake. And with Signy's handsome yet taciturn grandson, Anders, as their guide, Bo must start to make some big decisions, especially when her stalker makes a re-appearance. Will Bo work out what is real? Who is the Stalker? and what really happened on the mountain in 1936?
I do love a good Karen Swan novel and this happens to be one of my favourite Christmas novels. As always it is a romance set at Christmas but always with a slight edge exploring the unique world of the Influencer. I am truly fascinated by this world. At Christmas I watch some of the Vlogmas videos detailing people's perfect Christmas. And I find myself wondering what their lives are really like and the pressure they must be under to curate this seemingly perfect existence, the pressure to always be upbeat and take about a gazillion photos.
This is explored beautifully in this novel by Karen Swan which shows not to always believe everything you see or read on the internet. Indeed Zac is so far down the rabbit hole and obsessed with their 'Brand' that he forgets that Bo is a real person and that the pair do not exist solely for their followers.
As usual the location is at the heart of the story. The fjords and shelf farm are described beautifully - inky black water nestled amidst the icy giants.
Signy's fascinating story is woven within Zac, Bo and Anders' and contrasts nicely with the brand obsessed lifestyle. We learn how the young women of the village live on the shelf during the midsummer months, tending the animals and hay-making. It is a simple, humble life.
Of course there are lots of Christmas elements celebrated such as eating risgrøt, a lovely buttery porridge filled with dried fruits and one blanched almond. Whoever finds the almond receives a marzipan pig and will be the next to marry. Christmas trees are felled and decorated, hot chocolate is drunk and the Christmas market is lovely. It's all here!
So if you are in the mood for a Christmassy page turner with beautiful locations and a jolly good story then I would read Karen Swan every time.