Illustration taken from Christmas at Thrush Green. by Miss Read showing a woman at the window.

Christmas at Thrush Green by Miss Read

I've decided to go rogue for this post, much in keeping with our #missreadreadalong group! If you were expecting to read about my favourite books of the year, then apologies. The post is written and I'll now publish this tomorrow. But I just wanted to sneak in another post about another Christmas book which I finished last night.

It seems somewhat fitting to review what has been my most read author this year all thanks to this rather lovely book group I am part of, over on Instagram. Each month throughout the year, we have read one book in the Thrush Green series. This novel though, is one with a difference. It is the 13th book in the Thrush Green series, and was written during the later year's of Miss Read's life written with her long-time editor. But would this affect the story-telling? Let's find out shall we?

In case you have missed any of the other reviews from the year, I've put a handy list below.

The Plot

The villagers of Thrush Green celebrate Christmas traditionally, in a way that has hardly changed over the generations. Children eagerly hang up their stockings, families go to church together and everyone enjoys the treats of the festive season. And when it snows as the carol singers make their way round the cottages on the green, it looks as if Christmas will be perfect this year. But not everything is as peaceful as it seems.

Phyllida and Frank have their work cut out for them when they agree to take on the Nativity play - made all the more difficult by an outbreak of chicken pox. The indomitable Ella has lived in Thrush Green for as long as anyone can remember, but lately she has been behaving strangely. Then there are the dreadful Burwells, newcomers to Thrush Green, who cause something of a stir with their 'home improvements'. For Nelly, owner of The Fuchsia Bush tea shop, Christmas is an especially busy time, with people dropping in for much-needed refreshment, weary from all their Christmas shopping. But then she receives an unexpected letter.

My Thoughts

This was an interesting read to finish the series on. As I said in my preamble, Miss Read (Dora Saint) was quite elderly when this was published and discussed with her editor the plot and the book. This does feel different to the other books in the series, and I say this purely as someone who has read the rest of them this year. I think if I had picked it up randomly, I would not be able to spot the differences. It is a very excellent attempt at a traditional Miss Read novel.

Having said all that, I did really enjoy it. We see the build up to the festive period, our favourite characters going about their Christmas preparations. There is a slightly younger feel to the novels. Paul and Jeremy, who featured as young boys in the very first Thrush Green novels, are now teenagers and enjoy listening to pop music and riding on their bikes. They sample their first alcohol and one of them gets into a slight bit of trouble.

Humour is provided with the ghastly Burwells, who are determined to insert themselves into village life, and manage to ruffle quite a few feathers along the way First with their dubious means of architecture and then with their attempts to 'improve' the Christmas nativity scene.

Of course there are the usual crowd we have come to love; Winnie Bailey, Nelly, Albert Piggott, Charles and Dimity, Ella, Harold and Isobel. And it is lovely to have them back, along with some friends old and new. It was very touching how characters no longer with us were also referenced, particularly Donald Bailey and Mrs Curdle. We welcome back Agnes and Dorothy, last seen living in Barton. And we are pleased to see Raymond and Dulcie, now expecting a child choosing to live in the village that first brought them together.

Indeed this novel, feels as if it is a thank you note sent with warmth to a village and the characters we have come to love. The final image of all these friends gathered together, celebrating Christmas feels like the perfect end to the series.

I'll be back tomorrow with my final post before Christmas, in which I will be talking about my Books of the Year