This book was a Christmas gift to me. My first Karen Swan novel, to be honest. And although the plot is set around Christmas, this is also a great winterly read. The author´s style is a mix between romance, secrets, and family and set in the gorgeous Irish landscape.

The Christmas Party
by Karen Swan
Publisher Pan on October 1, 2020
Genre Novel
Pages 480
Format Paperback
Source Purchased

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged southwest coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise - and dismay - it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle. Why her? Something unknown - something terrible - made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So, when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself. Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow, and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?
Willow wants to be as far away from her family as possible. With the secret she´s discovered, she is not willing to stay at the castle any longer. What was supposed to be her home, feels now like a strange place. But when she must learn that her father had died, she is not only confronted with her grieving mother, but also her father´s last will. And the fact that the shield he has always held upon her mother no longer exists.

Karen Swan belongs to those authors who can set up a wide range of emotions with only a few words. I literally saw the entrance hall of the castle set up for the Christmas party, saw the Christmas tree, and could feel the surprise and amusement, Willow and her sister felt the moment they saw it. The writing style is sensitive but also blunt if necessary. Always with style and grace. I loved it from the first page to the last.

Three sisters, completely different and yet bound together by their upbringing. Living in a castle is something you need to experience. And Willow, Ottie, and Pip know what it means to have a leaking roof and a father who tries to keep it all together.

I was very impressed to see how Karen Swan had created her figures. How she had developed not only very opposing characters but also brought them together in a way like you imagine life in Ireland. As a reader, I knew from the first moment, that something wasn´t the way it was supposed to be. Some hints during the first few pages told me, that I was about to discover something in the story and family that related to Willow. And it was fantastic to see how that secret developed right in front of my eyes. Because Willow is one heck of a fantastic young woman. Although she must do what the others can´t, she´s done it with style and in her very own way.

A fantastic novel about family, loss, and the sometimes a bit overwhelmingly burden, a heritage can cause. I am absolutely thrilled. This book contains the perfect combination of making its readers laugh, wiping away tears of all kinds, and experiencing emotions with an intensity that is beyond everything ever imagined. A must-read for all book lovers and especially those who love the Irish setting.

Happy reading

Karen Swan
Karen Swan ©Alexander James

Karen Swan has long worked as a fashion journalist for magazines such as Vogue, Tatler, and YOU. She lives in Sussex, England, with her husband and three children. If the children let her, she writes novels in her treehouse.


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