Book review: When I Fall In Love by Miranda Dickinson

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a Miranda Dickinson book...

To be honest, the festive season doesn’t much feature in When I Fall In Love despite its snow-covered jacket, but as a glass of mulled wine infuses warmth and good cheer and a classic Christmas movie evokes laughter and tears, so her sparkling stories bear tidings of comfort and joy.

Yes, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in a feelgood story that endows the same glow as cuddling up in front of a log fire as we are whisked away to sunny Brighton or, more specifically, a beachfront retro ice cream parlour with the wonderful name of Sundae and Cher.

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It’s here that we find Elsie Maynard, the young assistant manager, whose past woes are about to come in for some fairytale treatment... but first she has to overcome the rather vexing problem of being caught leaving the local chemist shop without paying for her goods.

Just as well then that Prince Charming, alias well-cut businessman Torin Stewart, happens to be walking by to rescue her but a pity that the stolen items are some rather unromantic pile ointment and ear wax remover (for her dad, she would hasten to add!)

But Torin isn’t the only new man in her life... there’s also Woody Jensen, former member of 80s rock group Hellfinger who talent spots the musical Elsie when she gives an impromptu performance at the ice cream parlour and persuades her to help him form a local choir.

And then there’s the irresistible attractions of designer Olly Hogarth, a handsome hunk who seems intent on winning her heart.

It’s all a big sea change for Elsie whose ‘happy ever after’ was suddenly and painfully taken away from her eighteen months ago. She is slowly daring to live – and date – again and making her way through a bitter-sweet ‘List’ of things she must do.

Meanwhile, we get to know Elsie’s wonderful dad Jim, a Brighton businessman more at home in combat shirt and bright orange Doc Marten boots than a smart suit, her headstrong older sisters Guin and Daisy, and her larger-than-life boss Cher Pettinger.

And the choir, a very contemporary outfit and now sporting the rather fruity moniker The Sundaes, is going from strength to strength.

At long last, Elsie believes she is making the most of her life, but then a heartfelt request takes her to Paris – and the final item on her very important List. Can Elsie take that big step and lay her past to rest?

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Once again Dickinson spreads her special stardust over a tale of everyday folk whose trials and tribulations get a magical makeover, providing chicklit fans with a spellbinding feast of fun and a welcome escape from the winter cold.

She weaves the threads of her characters’ lives and stories into one big beautiful patchwork quilt, reflecting colour and real emotional depth but also stuffed to the corners with music, comedy and romance.

Written with warmth, subtlety and imagination, and all neatly packaged with her trademark care and affection, When I Fall In Love is the perfect way to ring in the Christmas season.

(Avon, paperback, £6.99)