Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Review 2019 #2 - Tasha Alexander's Upon the Midnight Clear

Upon the Midnight Clear by Tasha Alexander
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019
Format: Kindle, 73 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

What could have possessed Lady Emily and her husband Colin to actually take their three precocious boys to the legendary Hamleys Toy Shop days before Christmas? Yes, perhaps it's sheer joy at having London to themselves and avoiding their neighbor's overly enthusiastic holiday celebrations at Montague Manor that Colin refers to as The Festival of Horror. But their arrival at the toy shop seems fortuitous because a kind-hearted stranger gives her three boys Christmas crackers. Emily wants to view it as the act of kindness it appears, but in her husband's line of work appearances can be deceiving, just as the crackers turned out to be with each concealing a cryptic clue. Could this be the start of a Christmas case? When a Scottish stranger arrives the next day on their stoop Emily has every reason to believe the two events are connected as this man brings them a case. Years ago he married the love of his life against her parents wishes and she died in childbirth. He had every reason to believe that his child, a daughter, had died as well. Only recently he has found out that this might not be the case. Could Emily and Colin find his deceitful in-laws who are hidden under false identities within the teeming metropolis of London before Christmas or will he forever be separated from his daughter and any chance of happiness? Also, what about those Christmas crackers?

I'm OCD about reading books in order. So while I had an ARC of Lady Emily's fourteenth adventure, In the Shadow of Vesuvius, waiting on my Kindle I couldn't bring myself to read it immediately because of the upcoming Christmas Story, Upon the Midnight Clear. Tasha's Christmas tales are all such wonderful little slices of Emily's life coupled with just the right amount of Christmas cheer and literary allusions, like the perfect Christmas cookie, and I was ravenously waiting. Therefore the day it was released I devoured it whole. Yet my enjoyment didn't end there. This past holiday season was horrible for me. Starting at Thanksgiving and going straight through until Epiphany I was caring for my dad who was in and out of the hospital while watching my mom die. I had no Christmas. There were no gifts, there was nothing. I was barely able to squeeze in my mandatory traditions of watching Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas and The Vicar of Dibley episode "The Christmas Lunch Incident" with a few cookies baked in haste. Yet I didn't feel cheated because I had the lingering memory of this story. The importance of family and the connection between fathers and daughters, important to me for what I was going through and also for what I knew Tasha had been through in the past year. Therefore in the cold days at the of the year when I was making my best of books list I knew this story had to be included, for giving me cheer and for helping me cope. There's nothing like getting lost in the pages of a book with an old friend to help you through the tough times.


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