A Wedding at Christmas

a wedding at christmasPublished: 2015
Author: Chrissie Manby

A warm and welcome visit to the Bensons


Earlier this year I read and reviewed Chrissie Manby’s third Benson family story, A Proper Family Adventure. As you might recall I enjoyed the book but the snob in me had some problems connecting with the Bensons. They seemed a bit loud, a bit too close a family for my liking. I’m naturally an introvert and the Bensons family is the complete opposite of my own. It was a surprise (a pleasant one) to receive a copy of the fourth book in the series A Wedding at Christmas, released today. I’m very well aware of my prejudices so did my utmost to read this book with a completely open mind.

(Spoiler alert) A Proper Family Adventure ends with Chelsea Benson becoming engaged to her boyfriend Adam and we start the story not long after this with the couple starting to plan their wedding. As Chelsea’s beloved Granddad Bill becomes even more poorly, the family decides to bring the wedding forward by almost a year to ensure Bill can be with Chelsea when she gets married. This leaves the couple only weeks to plan the wedding but squabbling sisters, money troubles and the hostility of Adam’s former mother-in-law all threaten the happiness of the day.

Perhaps it’s because I already knew the family, but I enjoyed this instalment a good bit more than its predecessor. I had bought into the story and some of the family dynamics before I even opened the first page, despite what I thought was a slight coldness towards the characters I was really rooting for Chelsea and Adam. I was swept up in the warmth of the story and was really holding my breath for the eventual happy ending (not that there was ever a doubt, but there’s a few knocks along the way).

I still have some reservations about the Bensons – they aren’t my favourite characters in fiction, but at the same time it’s nice to see a truly working-class family portrayed in a cheerful way. Romance stories seem to be full of nice middle-class girls with working-class characters relegated to narratives of crime and misery. That’s a massive plus point for the Bensons.

Chrissie Manby writes really well and creates an engaging and fun story which I was happy to read at all times of the day and night. She manages to create conflict without the story ever straying into the aggressive. She also has a nice touch of pathos, while this is undoubtedly a happy, fun and uplifting story there are sad touches. The conflict between Chelsea and Adam’s former mother-in-law was moving and Bill’s story of decline will give people a catch in their throat as they think about their old elderly relatives and how they have suffered.

I’m not sure if there are any more Benson stories planned, I’m not quite sure where Manby would go from here – perhaps jump a couple of years into the future and focus on the next generation? If there are, I look forward to reading more about the family, and perhaps even thawing towards Chelsea’s prickly older sister Ronnie, although that might be a step too far for me…

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