by Karen Swan
Published: October 28, 2014 by William Morrow (first published 2011)
What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny--and your true love . . .
Ten years ago, a young and naive Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn't giving up. She's going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.
Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she's meant to have . . . and the man she's meant to love.
Don't be fooled by the title; this is not a "Christmas" book. Cassie discovers that her husband of ten years has been cheating on her and immediately leaves him and her old life. The plan is to spend the next year with her three best friends, 4 months with each, in three very different cities, discovering herself and deciding where she wants to start over.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I love the plot, and I think it had a lot of potential. However, it ended up very unrealistic. Cassie really has no money of her own, which is the main reason the plan is to stay with her three best friends. Lucky for her that these three friends have very prestigious jobs with lots of powerful connections. She is rubbing elbows with the cream of the crop, is given a job at Dior in Paris just because of her friend's connections, and definitely lives a lifestyle that is way more extravagant than she should be able to afford simply because she is so lucky to have these friends in high places. I really would have liked this book so much better if she had lived an ordinary life and the author would have avoided the over-the-top lifestyle.
The relationships she had with this group of women were not all that great for me either. These four women had really grown up together; friends since birth, and the mothers were friends even before their birth. They went to boarding school together and were always there for each other. Unfortunately, this rock-solid friendship showed big cracks almost as soon as Cassie begins staying with them. Yes, real-life friendships have these problems too, but I just didn't feel as if these friendships came across as being as strong as they were supposed to be.
On the other hand, I did enjoy seeing the changes in Cassie throughout the book as she found herself. And for me, the best part was Henry and the lists of things to experience that he gave her for each city. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy slower-paced women's fiction. You may not like this if you prefer story lines that are more down-to-earth.
I won a copy on Goodreads. I was not required to write a review.
About the author:
Karen Swan worked as a fashion editor before moving into writing fiction. She is married with three children and lives in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the South Downs. She is the author of the novels The Summer Without You, Christmas at Claridges, and The Perfect Present.
Find out more at KarenSwan.wix.com.