I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers closing the tour for Christmas at the Farmhouse, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
Christmas at the Farmhouse features a dual timeline, with both stories running simultaneously—Susan in the late 1960s and Jo and her family in the present.
Susan was an only child and her strict father ruled the small household. Her parents were not sociable and stuck their own traditions. Susan meets Robin through a creepy ex teacher and when she becomes pregnant at seventeen there’s no question as to what will happen. She is forced to go to a Home for Unmarried Mothers against her will. Her father cares more about his reputation and what people will think than he does about his daughter.
In the present on Jersey, Jo and Danish husband Magnus are preparing for a large family festive season with their four children and several grandchildren.
Growing up as an only child of kind but conservative parents, with Christmas always a quiet and fairly basic affair, I made three resolutions at the age of thirteen — that I’d have a large family, live in a cosy farmhouse, and make a great big fuss about Christmas every single year.
Jo had achieved her resolutions and was happily looking forward to this Christmas with her family around her. It turned out to be an eventful time, with surprises, some awkward moments and one very carefully laid out plan bringing much joy.
Susan’s story couldn’t be more different. Her job at the bakery after she left school was about to alter her life in ways she could never have imagined. It’s hard to grasp the cruelty perpetrated by nuns running the infamous mother and baby homes, as late as the 1970s.
The two timelines flowed together seamlessly as the story unfolded, the poignancy of one juxtaposed with the happiness of the other. Characters are well drawn and engaging, the writing easy to read.
About the Book
As the anticipation of Christmas builds in the Nielsen family’s cosy farmhouse, Jo, Magnus and their grown-up children begin to congregate for a hybrid Danish-Jersey festive season, each with a surprise of their own – though the surprise that arrives over Christmas is the most life-changing of all.
Fifty years earlier, in 1969, Susan Jones finds herself being pursued by Mr Jenners, her former English teacher, and at the age of seventeen is packed off to a Home for Unmarried Mothers in London by her uncompromising father. As Christmas approaches, all she can do is desperately hope to be rescued, but will anyone be able to reach her in time?
The two timelines of this festive story gradually weave together in a tale that examines whether love and hope can eventually triumph over even the deepest sadness.
Rebecca Boxall is the award-nominated author of five bestselling novels – Christmas at the Vicarage, Home for Winter, Christmas on the Coast, The Christmas Forest and Christmas by the Lighthouse.