Review: Christmas at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown.

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of this book via Goodreads, and given it's Christmas theme I decided to dive straight in the minute it arrived on my doorstep.The premise of the story is simple; Carrington's department store is in financial trouble and so Kelly Cooper (think fictional Mary Portas) and her TV company arrive to 'improve' it, filming a reality show along the way. For Georgie Hart, her best friends Sam and Eddie, and the rest of the store staff, their lives are turned upside down and they become overnight 'slebs' (don't even get me started on how much that abbreviation annoyed me). Having recently watched Channel 4's documentary on Liberty's of London I was excited to see how the concept measured up in fiction and I wasn't disappointed. As a leading character Georgie has more than a hint of Bridget Jones about her; throw in the obligatory hunky boss and gay best friend and you have the makings of a great story, if a little stereotypical and predictable.

There were however a few things about the plot that bothered me. Firstly, I certainly wouldn't have been so quick to forgive Tom for the way he behaved, despite his excuses (I won't elaborate so as not to spoil the story!) Secondly, the sudden catapult of the shop staff to 'TOWIE' style stardom is a tad unbelievable. Admittedly I haven't read the other books in the Carrington's series so it might be worth doing that first to get a better sense of the characters.

If you're looking for an easy festive read then this fits the bill nicely; I raced through it over two evenings in order to have it finished by Christmas Day. Some books set at this time of year are best read pre- Christmas Day, hence my haste to finish it, but this one could easily be read at any time of year; minus the ice rink, fake snow and continuous references to Bucks Fizz and festive food, and the story could just as easily have been set in the summer.

3/5 stars: The department store concept has great potential (modern day Mr Selfridge perhaps?) and I hope to read the other books in the series!



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