The Christmas Angel is the story of a year in the lives of an extended family living in Cornwall. Dossie was widowed early & lives with her parents in their house, The Court, where they once ran a B & B. Now, Dossie runs her catering company from home while caring for her elderly parents. Dossie’s son, Clem, gave up his theological studies when his young wife died in childbirth, leaving him to care for their son, Jakey. Clem has finally found a spiritual home at Chi-Meur, a religious community of just four sisters, Mother Magda, Sisters Emily, Ruth & Nichola. Clem is general handyman in exchange for a home for himself & Jakey, close to Dossie & far away from the frenetic life he lived in London. Finally he has the time to consider his future & decide if he wants to become a priest. Janna has also found a home at Chi-Meur. Abandoned by her parents, she has spent her life as a traveller, always moving on before she can settle down or be tied down. Independent, reserved but very caring, she becomes absorbed into the life of Chi-Meur.
The community at Chi-Meur has some hard decisions to make. The sisters are all elderly & Nichola is suffering from dementia. Should they think about moving to another community? Their house has become well-known for the spiritual retreats & seminars they run but how much longer can they keep going with no new professions likely? When they’re offered a good price to sell the house to a developer who wants to convert it into a hotel, it may be the answer to their dilemma but is the offer all it seems?
Dossie leads a busy life but romance hasn’t been one of her successes. She seems to fall for men who are married or shy of commitment. When she meets Rupert, an attractive man who buys & renovates country properties, she’s walking on air, singing Joni Mitchell songs & wondering if, at last, this could be the relationship she’s been searching for since her husband died.
Marcia Willett’s books are perfect comfort reading. She brings together a group of people the reader cares about & we’re happy to be in their company for a while. Location & atmosphere are always important. Most of her books are set in Cornwall & the West Country & she evokes the life of country families & small towns so well. I enjoyed all the characters in the book, especially Dossie’s parents with their dogs & their worries about their selfish son & his grasping partner. I loved the details of the sisters’ lives, especially Sister Emily with her joy in everyday pleasures & her determination to help everyone she comes in contact with. This is a perfect Sunday afternoon book. My only regret is that now I have to wait a year for the next one.