As a teenager I loved staying with my Gran in Scotland so that I could read her People’s Friend Annual. The stories had a feel-good theme which made me look forward to being one of the young women in the tales. A few years ago, my mother was passing on copies of the magazine and I discovered the stories had moved with the times. Nowadays they deal with single parents, caring grandparents and the problems of divorce. So, I had an inkling that Wendy Clarke’s book of Christmas stories which have already been published in the People’s Friend and Women’s Weekly would be a rewarding experience.
There are 13 stories of which two take us back to the twentieth century. The characters are children, young couples, middle-aged men and women stuck in their ways and old people with sad stories but wisdom to pass on. Some try to recreate happy Christmas gatherings from the past while others try to escape the traditions and family problems of a conventional day.
Bella’s Christmas, “On my Own,” particularly appeals to me personally and promises a change in her future life, while “Project Christmas”, “A Christmas Present called Abbie,” and “A Song for Christmas,” are heartening accounts of how young men come to terms with looking after a family they love at Christmas.
“Cancelling Christmas,” and “Together for Christmas,” reminded me that friendship is worth celebrating at this time and “Finding Santa,” shows how strangers will rally round to make Christmas special when disaster strikes.
“Christmas Strike” is a lesson for us all about making assumptions about others while “The Greatest Gift” is a touching story about love, although I did feel that Lindsay was almost too perfect, in her happiness to receive only a small gift from her partner.
The two historical stories are sad and moving but perhaps the most unusual is “The Memory Purse” where Tracy’s attempt to give all the residents of a Retirement Village what they wish for, results in a surprise gift for her personally. This lovely book would make an excellent present or a relaxing read for yourself over the festive season.
You can find Silent Night on Amazon UK
Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women’s fiction. She started writing when the primary school she taught in closed down and after completing two creative writing courses, began writing short fiction for magazines. Since then, she has sold over two hundred short stories and her work regularly appears in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.
Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!