It is an enchanting time of the year. A time when a man, dressed in red with a bushy, white beard packs a sleigh full of parcels (helped by elves), which is pulled by flying reindeer, and visits every good boy and girl in the world. It is a time full of festive fun, humour, warmth and togetherness. And a sprinkling of magic. At least, it is if you don't venture onto the roads or into the shopping centres. Christmas shopping centre rage is not magical.
It got me thinking about novels featuring ordinary women with that little spark of magical mystery in them. Here are some of my favourites:
1. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – I adored this book. In a small town in North Carolina lives the Waverley family. A family where every woman appears to be touched by magic. Plus, there is an apple tree in the garden that can tell the future and the garden itself is always in bloom, whatever the season. Claire runs a catering business with enchanting bakes, but keeps herself to herself. In the book, her sister, Sydney, returns back to the family home with a daughter. Magic and romance.
2. Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood – Written by Novelicious founder and director, this is the tale of Natalie Butterworth. She has just got engaged and her mother and sister have taken over the organisation of her wedding. Natalie never says what she's really thinking and just goes along with it all for a quiet life. But then, one night, she's hypnotised by a dodgy hypnotist, Amazing Brian, and she starts saying what she really thinks. I can't say what happens next as it'll spoil it all, just that it had a small magical undercurrent. And a fabulous array of sayings from Natalie. 'What the pickle?' has to be my favourite. I need to use this myself.
3. The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes – A varied collection of people live at 66 Star Street. Music executive, Katie, lives on the top floor. Then cabbie, Lydia, streetwise and sharp-tongued. Fionn is a gardener on the first floor; he is very handsome and likes to keep to himself. But then he's thrust into the limelight with a TV programme. Then there's Matt and Maeve trying to fight off despair with random acts of kindness. But a mysterious visitor is in their midst and about to change everything…
4. If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern – Really, I could have chosen any of Cecelia's books to include here, they all provide a magical element. In If You Could See Me Now, Elizabeth Egan is a busy woman. Not only does she have her own business, but she also has her sister, Saoirse's, son Luke to look after. Enter Ivan and the magic…
5. Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes – This book is completely different. Nina, with her son Christopher, flies out to Malta to visit her aging parents. What she finds, however, is lots of dead people. Malta being the transit lounge for the recently deceased. She also finds Jesus in a pub wearing nail varnish. It is a story of love, grief and loss.
Do you have a favourite book that has a touch of magic to it?