Title: The Christmas Lights
Author: Karen Swan
Published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.
June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces…
The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.
Mrs R’s Review:
With a breath taking cover, The Christmas Lights is the fifteenth novel by English author
Karen Swan. Swan sets her novels in beautiful, swoon worthy locations from Greece to Italy and this time she takes the reader to Norway. A historical fiction novel with a split narrative, The Christmas Lights is set in June of 1936 and December 2018. With themes of love, family, friendship and traditional ways versus new ways, Swan has written a novel that is about more than just Christmas.
In the Summer of June 1936, 14 year old Signy is the main protagonist. She and her sister,
Margit, along with the Jemtegard siblings, live in the mountains to help the family prepare for the winter months. Starting out as a milkmaid, Signy later herds the animals as she has a natural connection with them. Karen has done her research her as she describes the interesting life of the young boys and girls that go into the mountains without their parents. It is a time of growth for Signy as she learns to deal with everyday problems, discovering her strengths and weaknesses along the way. The simple mountain life provides a sharp contrast with modern society.
Over 70 years later, Signy is an old woman still living in Norway when Bo Loxley enters her life. Bo and her finance, Zac, are a social media brand known as Wonderlust. Traveling the world with photographer and friend, Lenny, the trio post photos on Instagram of their authentic adventures for the millions of followers. Renting from Signy, they find themselves isolated from the world, cracks beginning to appear in a seemingly perfect partnership. Both have always been adventurous; however they are opposites in other ways. Zac is the extrovert who loves the social media life and is willing to do anything to up the numbers. He is always on the move and there where many moments I disliked Bo choices. Bo is the more introverted character, craving the home comforts that she left behind years ago. When Signy’s grandson, Anders, appears in their lives, it becomes crystal clear that the couple are no longer in sync. Shaking things up, Anders shows Bo the simpler life, making Bo question everything she holds dear.
With contemporary themes of social media representation and trolls, stalking, family and relationships, The Christmas Lights is an eye opening account of life in the media today and the toll it takes on those who live it.
The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan was published on 30th October 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Christmas Lights, Karen Swan visit here.
*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.