Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper

Sandra Harper's holiday novel is a nice way to spend an afternoon relaxing. The title could have double meaning and perhaps that was the authors' purpose; the story takes place over the holidays and also the characters' attitudes toward the holidays.

The book itself only happens for a few short weeks around the holidays but Harper's story packs a punch in that short time frame. Following several women linked by family, we see many different viewpoints on the holidays. Just after Vanessa and her husband JT decide not to travel East as they do every year, her sister-in-law Patience decides to travel to California instead. Vanessa finds it hard to hide her annoyance as she already has her plate full with work and their own holiday preparations. Vanessa also teases with the idea of infidelity over the Christmas break. Patience struggles with not having her standard "perfect" New England Christmas and dealing with a sassy seventeen year old daughter who seems to hate her. Vanessa's older sister Thea is struggling over the holiday season with finding inspiration for her art. And Patience's daughter, Liberty (Libby for short) cannot seem to get through to her mother that she doesn't want the same things has her mother.

Lots of inner turmoil going on in this book from Sandra Harper. And amazingly, she wraps it all up with a perfect little bow by the end of the book. I wasn't sure if this book would be too fluffy for my tastes when I started it. But honestly, Harper has written a book that manages to capture the stresses of the holiday season from many women's point of view in a way that is entertaining and spot-on. I think at one time or another we've all been annoyed at the the fact that much of the holiday preparations fall on the woman's shoulders. It's amazing to see how universal this is through several characters in Over the Holidays. I would recommend this as a holiday read as well as a book for anyone who enjoys Women's Fiction with strong, well-developed characters and a story with some depth to it.
Source disclosure: I received this book from Simon and Schuster through the LibrayThing Early Reviewer Program.

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