Title: One Christmas night
Author: Hayley Webster
Publication date: 2019
Source: Own copy
I have to say I love a good Christmas book, they fill me with festive cheer, a warm glow and happy vibes. They set me up for the Christmas period ahead. I chose to read this book as part of a Christmas readathon hosted by Caffienatedreviewer and although it was the only one I managed to read during for the challenge, I am glad I chose this particular book to start my journey through the festive period!
One Christmas night is set, you guessed it, over one night. Christmas Eve in fact. It is a Christmas story like no other. It centres around the inhabitants of Newbury Street whose Christmas is on the verge of being ruined. Homes have been broken into, presents have been stolen, and suspicion is laid at the door of every house in the street. They believe the thief is one of their own and nobody is ruled out. As investigations commence and the community begins to search for clues, a lot more is uncovered about the inhabitants than they first thought. Will the secrets uncovered bring hope back or further split the street?
I loved this story from the beginning, and as I read more it became clear that this was not a your normal cosy Christmas book. The opening chapter was told from the thieves point of view and set the scene for a web of intrigue and mystery. I loved that the thief was described as ‘they’ rather than he/she as it really left it open for any of the streets inhabitants to be the guilty one. Once the characters were introduced slowly it became clear that everyone had a secret hidden away and nobody was as they seemed.
The character development for me was the best bit about the story, it raised so many thoughts about community and how we treat people as well as that you never really know what is going on behind closed doors, no matter how shiny a facade there is in front of you. Each character was given a chance to blossom and grow over that one Christmas Eve night, some for better and some for most definitely worse!
I loved the bond between Tash and Rocky, the strength and poise of Wendy, the kindness of Joanie, the determination of Sue, even the undercurrents of hatred that emanated from Euan. My heart broke when we met Cynthia for the first time. The vibrant personalitys for good or bad made this story joyful, emotional, suspenseful, intriguing and downright lovely!
Another character who I feel deserves their own mention is the stray tabby cat, known by many different names he is a metaphor for the eyes of the street. He quietly observes all the people, entering all of their homes and giving affection, a silent voyeur watching over the inhabitants and linking them all together with his presence. I always enjoy when an animal gets given a part in a story!
The themes of loss and grief ran all way through and rather than making it depressing or sad I genuinely felt a warm glow by the end as family and friends came together to rally against the darkness and make the best of a situation
Newbury street is a neighbourhood with many rifts between people, simmering resentments under the surface and a hidden darkness but through all that there is a ray of light breaking through, showing that with love and community spirit problems can be shared and dealt with together. It was an overall uplifting book and fully got me in the Christmas mood!
About the author:
Hayley Webster is a writer and teacher who grew up in Newbury, Berkshire. Her first novel Jar Baby was published by Dexter Haven in 2012.
You can follow her on twitter
I will certainly be looking out for her next release Luna Rae is not alone in February 2021.