On the fourth adventure to Mure, there is a hint of Christmas in the air as Flora helps her brother Fintan prepare for the grand opening of his new hotel. Fellow Murians are expecting bigs things and when the mysterious Konstantin finds himself unexpectedly in the middle will he realise that the little island isn't all bad?
I'll be honest with you all, I judge a book by its cover. I picked this up in Sainsbury's after debating if I needed another book (the answer is always yes), but when I flipped off the dust jacket I was completely sold on it. Whoever designed this cover and underneath the jacket deserves a raise, it is beautiful! Hand's down one of the prettiest covers of the year.
Anyway, back to the good stuff. When I picked it up I didn't realise that this was actually part of a bigger series based on the island and it's inhabitants so some of the references to past characters were slightly lost on me but not so much I couldn't enjoy the bigger picture. It reads well as a stand-alone if you are worried about that, everything becomes clear enough for you to connect the dots eventually.
Colgan has always been an author I've been aware of and I have known several people who love her work and I could see why immediately. Even with this being number four in the Mure series she still puts the effort into creating a gorgeous setting in the reader's mind that allows you to feel as though you know this island inside and out. The same can be said for the characters, whilst I assume some of them are recurring in the series they are still introduced with an acceptable amount of detail to ensure the reader knows who they are, but not enough to drag it out for returning fans. Colgan has done exceptionally well to encapsulate the reader within the world of Mure and makes it a fictional island holiday we actually all would want to take!
The story itself was predictable but for a Christmas read that's what I wanted, I wanted to know that by the end of the book I was going to be uplifted with community spirit and a sprinkle of romance. 'Nice' is what I would use to describe this novel, in every essence of the word it was nice, I don't mean that it wasn't exceptional or it was bland, it was lovely, warm and cosy to read on the cold evenings of November.
My knowledge of contemporary is sorely lacking but my general feeling is that short chapters are for more fast-paced reads and whilst I appreciate them (I get easily distracted and short chapters make me feel accomplished), in this novel they seemed out of place. 'Christmas at the Island Hotel' was a solid piece of fiction following the characters through tough adjustments to life and the fast-paced chapters sometimes took the edge off the strength of the plot.
Next year (or, this year, when this blog goes out) I think the book might even make another appearance as my comfort Christmas read, it had its flaws but I did enjoy it.