Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the Sixth Day of Christmas: There's Something About Christmas

Title: There’s Something about Christmas
Author: Debbie Macomber
Christmas Cheer Rating: 2

I’d been looking forward to reading one of Debbie Macomber for a while and this challenge provided me a perfect opportunity to pick up some of her books. Unfortunately, this book was a disappointment.

There’s Something about Christmas is the story of Emma Collins, a reporter for a small newspaper in Puyallup, Washington. She longs to write something other than obituaries and doing ad sales. She gets her chance to write a personal interest story about local women who’ve are finalist in a national recipe contest. She had to face two things she hates: flying and fruitcake. Added to her distress is the fact that a local pilot had offered to fly her in return for free advertisement in the paper. She starts for fall for Olivier, fruitcake and ultimately Christmas.

As I read this book, I struggled to figure out why Macomber’s writing earned her a place on bestseller lists. I guessing that her other books are better than this one. The best word I can use to describe this book is flat. I had no emotional connection to any of the characters. I really didn’t care what happened to them. Not only that, I had not sense of the physical appearance of either characters. Normally I can form a mental picture in my head based from the description the author gives. Macomber kept saying that Oliver was handsome, but she didn’t give me any description to work with. And of course, the name Oliver didn’t help. All I kept seeing him as a middle aged, slightly overweight, bald guy. And I didn’t know Emma was blond until the middle of the book.

The other thing this book lacked was a lack of setting. Just as she didn’t describe her characters, Macomber didn’t describe location either. One piece of advice that I’ve read from writing books was to make your novel’s setting adds something to the tale. If your story could be set anywhere in the world, then the writer hasn’t put enough work into the setting. That’s the exact feeling I got from Puyallup, Washington. It could have been any small town in the world.

The third problem I had with the book is that Emma hated Oliver so much that it was hard to believe she’d done a 180 and was now in love with him. I understand that tension is a good thing when it comes to romance, but this was too much. Emma didn’t like anything about him. Once is started, the romance between them seemed artificial. They had no chemistry.

There is another one of her books on my reading list. I hope it does better than this one and I won’t find myself rushing through it simply to say I finished it.

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