Goodreads Summary: Meet two women with two totally different approaches to the festive season.
Beth: it’s only September and already she has performance anxiety. Not surprising when she has agreed to lay on the annual Christmas Eve village bash – the piece de resistance of her husband’s former wife – not to mention having to host Christmas for his difficult offspring. New to this frenzied build-up to the festivities, Beth begins to lose sight of what it all means. To her the Christmas lights are looking more like the headlamps of an oncoming train.
Carol: glamorous magazine editor, who put her aspirational Christmas issue to bed sometime in July and is so involved in finding a scoop to save her ailing magazine that she fails to notice the impending festive rush. Panicked and wracked with guilt, she is determined to make it a picture perfect time for her little boy and, opting for convenience, books a lovely-sounding cottage in a quaint village.
Even the best laid plans have a habit of unravelling – and no plan at all is a recipe for disaster. So when these two Christmases collide, it looks like it’s going to be anything but goodwill towards men…
My Thoughts: The Xmas Factor gives a pretty good impression about what it is like for most adults in the time before Christmas. As an adult the festive season can easily turn out to be the most stressful time of the year. “It‘s strange – all this build-up to a single Day! I can‘t manage to think past Christmas Day itself.” Everybody knows the situation of starting to think about presents and preparation too late. Every year we tell ourselves that next year all will be different only to find us last minute shopping a day before Christmas again not having an idea what to buy for our friends and relatives. As a child, you do not have to prepare anything and time seems to pass slower than ever while waiting for Christmas. You could basically just enjoy all the good parts of Christmas without being stressed out in the end. When you are a grown up, you normally feel that you need holidays from all the preparations and the stress after Christmas. And it becomes worse every year that passes by: “No sooner are the summer holidays over than the Christmas cards and decorations are in the supermarkets.”
I am actually glad that I read this book early in November already to remind me of all the things that need to be prepared. This year I am definitely more prepared than all the years before. I loved the tips for preparation at the beginning of each chapter and I think they are very useful. Therefore, I am going to post them on my blog as well so that you can profit as well!
In the beginning I was really disappointed because the book does not deliver a festive atmosphere in the first chapters. It is just talking about different characters being totally stressed out about their problems and on top of that they now also have to deal with Christmas preparation. But in the end I really enjoyed this book because it gives the reader a Christmas feeling after all.
What I absolutely liked about the book is that it has small chapters (25 – what a coincidence for a Christmas book… ;-)). In the beginning, all characters are presented and it seems as if they are totally independent from each other. After a while, the book reveals more and more about the connections between the different characters and in the end everything falls into places and the reader realises that there was a certain connection between everyone the whole time. Another thing that I personally liked is that the story takes place in London. For me, living in London, this is great especially if it talks place in areas where I have already been or where my daily life takes place. This way, I could imagine everything perfectly.
But do the preparations for Christmas really destroy the magic and happiness of Christmas? According to Annie Sanders, some people suffer from “Pre-Festive Stress Disorder“ which sounds reasonable considering how much pressure is put on ourselves from advertisements and so on. Especially when you live in a metropolis, time passes so extremely quick and there are always millions of things to think about! Even without Christmas. Of course, many family members argue with each other over Christmas and preparing Christmas, especially last minute, can be a bit challenging. I think it should not be like that. We should focus on the most important things about Christmas: Being together with our families and friends and for those of you who are religious, celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is not at all about having the perfect menu or the perfect present. Reading the Xmas Factor helped me to calm down a bit and focus on the main things which makes the whole Christmas time much more relaxed for me.
More information about Annie Sanders can be found here.
My Rating: ★★★☆