Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Ten years ago Megan McAllister left her family home in disgrace. Her parents’ hopes for their perfect daughter were dashed when she announced she was pregnant. After struggling to carve a place in the world for herself and her own daughter, Skye, Megan is dreading the Christmas reunion her beloved aunt has been pushing for. Returning home for Christmas doesn’t just mean facing her disappointed parents. She also has to face the friends she left behind and her irresistible ex-boyfriend, Lucas Bright. Despite dreading driving home for Christmas, a lot can change in ten years and there are plenty of surprises in store for Megan.
Megan is a single parent, living with her elderly aunt, Anna, an incredibly camp drag queen, Jamie, and her quirky, detective-in-training daughter, Skye. She has spent the past ten years trying to recover from her parents’ rejection when she needed them the most, keeping any newcomers at a sensible distance. She is a wonderful character – intelligent, loving and funny. From the beginning I felt that she deserved to be loved but knew that wouldn’t be possible until she faced the disenchantment of her past. She’s so busy trying to protect herself and Skye from being hurt that she has forgotten how to be happy.
Precocious and inquisitive Skye plays a large part in the novel. She’s lovingly written into life making her believable and she can be incredibly insightful at times and then react childishly at others. Having only Jamie as a male role-model, Skye is much more willing to accept her grandfather and Lucas into her life without question. She takes on the mammoth task of convincing her mother to forget the past and look to the future.
The whole novel sparkles with the spirit of Christmas. The characters’ eccentricities add to this with their traditions that emphasise the importance of family, whether blood or chosen. The plot delves into Megan’s past showing how she moved from being a Cambridge bound study-aholic to a rebellious teen singing in a band. The answers to my questions, such as what happened between Megan and her parents and who is Skye’s father, were answered gradually through the flashbacks, giving me a more holistic and subsequently sympathetic view of the characters, including Megan’s parents, Heather and Peter. There’s also a wonderful villain in the form of Belinda, an old school ‘friend’ of Megan’s, though I was disappointed never to find out what actually happened between her and Lucas.
Driving Home for Christmas is the perfect Christmas read, offering the expected laughs and tears, all leading up to a perfectly wrapped ending complete with a bow.
8 / 10