A Christmas Wedding by Fiona Ford #BookReview #BlogTour


London, 1943: Dot Hanson has never forgotten the thrill of seeing the beautiful Christmas displays at Liberty’s department store as a young girl.

Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would one day work there, or that she would fall in love with the store’s manager, her childhood sweetheart Edwin Button. But in spite of the life Dot has built for herself, and the tight-knit community around her, she lives in the shadow of a terrible secret. And as the bombs continue to fall across Britain there is more heartache still to come.

All Dot wants is a family of her own with the man she loves by her side. Will her dreams come true in time for Christmas?

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for A Christmas Wedding today. Many thanks to Fiona Ford and to Rachel Kennedy from Arrow for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

How lovely it was to be reunited with the Liberty Girls in the eventful months leading up to Christmas 1943. The book actually opens with a brief scene set several years previously when Dot - the matriarch of Liberty's fabric department -  was still a young woman. She is captivated by the Christmas Tree in the window of the store but astonished when her friend, Ivy suggests they actually go into the shop to look at fabrics for her wedding dress. After all, Liberty's isn't the place for women like her...
This proves to be a clever introduction to what is one of the most important themes in A Christmas Wedding, the changing face of society during WW2 - particularly regarding the role of women in the workplace. The contrast between the wartime experiences of the different classes is examined too and there's a clear contrast between the experiences of the most privileged and the rest of the population - but there are similarities and shared struggles too. It's also fascinating to see how the previously dogmatic attitudes to what was considered scandalous behaviour are beginning to soften.
Dot has become a very different person to that rather subservient young woman at the start of the novel, and is a strong, forthright character. However, despite being a tower of strength for her friends and colleagues, it soon becomes evident that she isn't really as confident as she appears and frequently still doubts her abilities and her self-worth. This is very much Dot's book and I have a real soft spot for this wonderful character. Much of the action revolves around her as she becomes overwhelmed by the burdens of long-held secrets and present-day heartbreak but the various subplots featuring some of the other characters are engaging too; Mary might have believed her family troubles are in the past but a surprise visit changes everything and she has to make a decision about who she wants to be, while Brenda is the new girl on the shop floor but she has secrets too which reveal the vulnerability of young women in service and an unpleasant encounter on a night out means the rest of the Liberty Girls become dreadfully worried for their newest member. Perhaps the most touching aspect of this series is the love which exists between the characters and that's certainly reinforced here as it becomes clear that family isn't always about who you're related to. 
There are a number of shocks and surprises during the course of the novel and although the clues interspersed throughout meant I guessed one revelation, I was still intrigued to discover how the characters would react to the disclosure. Thanks to the seamless inclusion of some of the key moments from the previous stories, it's perfectly possible to read A Christmas Wedding as a standalone but I'm sure that many new readers will be tempted to go back to the start of the series to truly appreciate it in its entirety. The wealth of period details give a real sense of time and place to the story and I enjoyed the introduction of a character who is a conscientious objector and therefore somebody whose beliefs put them odds with much of society at that time. Of course, being set during wartime, there are a few deeply poignant, tear-jerking scenes too.
A Christmas Wedding is the ideal book to curl up with as the festive season approaches and is a captivating conclusion to this heartwarming series. I'll miss the Liberty Girls but look forward to reading more of Fiona Ford's novels in the future.

A Christmas Wedding is published by Arrow, purchasing links can be found here but please consider supporting independent bookstores whenever possible, either by buying directly from them or by ordering through Bookshop.org which is a new, ethical marketplace that ensures independent bookshops receive their full profit margin (30 per cent of the cover price) for each sale they generate on the platform.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Fiona Ford is the author of the Liberty Girls series, which is set in London during the Second World War. Fiona spent many years as a journalist writing for women’s weekly and monthly magazines. She has written two novels under the pseudonym, Fiona Harrison, as well as two sagas in her own name in the Spark Girls series. Fiona lives in Berkshire with her partner.