I have been waiting for weeks to meet Leah. As soon as the book arrived, I made myself some strong coffee and lost myself in France.
As I opened the book, I could feel the ‘sheen on my skin where the sunshine streamed in through the window’. But the book isn’t just about the shimmering heat, a fast heart beat and copious amounts of rosé pamplemousse. It is a wonderfully witty book that isn’t ‘Just for the Holidays’ because the consequences of the holiday will last forever. This novel examines the fragility of the ‘protective shell’ surrounding teenagers that can shatter without their parents. In turn, Moorcroft also shows how adult are left vulnerable and exposed when relationships breakdown. However, you will still laugh all the way through novel and forget that you need to go to sleep – hence strong coffee needed. You will also crave some expensive chocolate.
Prior to reading this novel, I was unaware of the challenges facing Leah as I had focused on the trail of clues in the #PostcardsJFTH. One must admire Leah as she ‘rolls up her sleeves’, supports everyone and hopes that the ‘frost’ will thaw between her sister and brother-in-law. Leah’s ‘heart twists’ for the teenagers but also flutters when she feels the heat from a certain man. It is moving that Leah has an incredible capacity to empathise, putting the needs of others first. It is equally endearing that she removes the halo from time to time. Who wouldn’t want Leah, with her ‘sunny personality’ and compassion, as a sister?
The narrative is as fast paced as Leah’s Porsche, but one longs to find out if the romance will become a harmonious melody rather than a sporadic drum beat. Besides the events rolling on, there is a tremendous lyrical quality to the dialogue that drives you through the events. The humour sparkles throughout the interactions and difficult situations. I am in awe of the way in which Moorcroft combines humour with a more challenging and sensitive subject. Characters are built with precision as each word is selected with tender loving care: Moorcroft cares about her characters thus ensuring that the reader will also suffer from a ‘sore heart’ at times.
Read it and you will understand why Leah needs to get a massive ‘Do not disturb’ sign on her door.
A whole constellation of stars to be awarded to Sue Moorcroft for this funny, poignant yet heart-breaking read! Must go now and bake the quick pecan toffee pudding to console myself for having finished the book.
Sue Moorcroft is an author who has worked hard for success. Her last novel, The Christmas Promise, rose to #1 in the Amazon Kindle chart and her latest, Just for the Holidays, has just been released. She likes reading, Formula 1, dancing and sunshine.
It was an honour to welcome Sue Moorcroft. She came to visit on a Sunday afternoon when the sun was indeed shining, as it does in her latest novel. She’d dressed for the weather in cut-offs and a T-shirt and was carting along her usual over-sized bag that she calls ‘half handbag and half briefcase’. As well as her personal stuff it accommodates her iPad and/or Kindle, bookmarks, cards and a battery and leads in case any of her devices need charging. I opened the French doors and we sat on sun loungers that I had placed under my vine terrace.
I poured us both a glass of Crémant d’Alsace and we made a toast to Leah and Ronan from Just for the Holidays. Inspired by Leah, I prepared a simple, refreshing salad. Sue had brought some strawberries as she had promised to make some of her strawberries and cream mug cakes. It was like a scene from Just for the Holidays as the ‘shimmering heat of the garden’ welcomed us. I had planted the pots with ‘white petunias and red geraniums’ to set the scene and we chatted about the novel.
Jessie: I know what happens in the novel and thoroughly enjoyed the exciting sequence of events and the sparkling humour. Can you capture the narrative in fifty words?
Sue: Just for the Holidays is about Leah, who doesn’t want a husband or children, ending up looking after her sister’s husband and children in France, where she doesn’t speak the language. Luckily, there’s a helicopter pilot next door who does – until he receives an unexpected guest of the embarrassing kind.
When asked to read a tempting extract from the novel, Sue opened her book and instantly found the perfect introduction to Ronan.
‘You’re not French!’ Leah exclaimed.
‘No, indeed.’ If anything, she could detect a touch of Irish in his voice.
‘But you spoke to me in French!’
He grinned disarmingly. ‘I’m a big fat show off.’
J: You have had many, many sparkling reviews. Can you provide a snapshot of some of the reviews?
J: It is evident that you care about your characters – it was difficult for me to say leave Leah behind. How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?
S: Whenever I finish a book I always feel a heady mixture of triumph and relief. Yes, I do sometimes miss characters and I particularly missed Leah and Ronan from Just for the Holidays … but I know I’ll meet them again during the various edits. By then I’ll be keen to be with them again and will greet them like old friends.
J: Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.
S: I suppose ‘As many people as possible’ is the answer! There are few things that please me as much as people liking my books, so the more people who read them, the more likely that is.
J: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?
S: Entertainment and food for thought. My books usually have issues bubbling under the surface and in the case of JFTH they are: the changing shape of families, women being voluntarily child free, independence, bankruptcy and homelessness, and the problems of taking a relationship to an intimate level with teenagers around to thwart you.
J: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?
When she realises Levi has been her guardian angel, initially she’s furious. But the homeless guy tells her not to knock it. This relates to the book I’m currently writing for publication in Summer 2018.
J: What is the biggest challenge for an author?
S: For me, doing my accounts. Being an author is like any other business and I don’t enjoy the paperwork.
J: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?
S: Don’t make enemies. This was from Margaret James, who was then the New Writers’ Scheme Organiser of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
J: How does a best-selling author manage to stay so down to earth?
S: I work hard. I don’t have the time for airs and graces and my family and friends would probably point them out if I did.
Sue made the strawberries and cream mug cakes and they were deliciously gooey. Her recipe is on her Facebook page and she agreed to share the link to my Timeline. Although she’s cut right back on teaching in order to accommodate her publishing schedule of two books a year, Sue was incredibly generous with her time and passed on to me a few nuggets of practical advice about the world of publishing. She feels lucky to be writing full time and able to live her dream and it was a privilege to listen to her wisdom about the professional world of writing.
Before Sue could drive off, she had to remind herself of how to start the shiny new car. In common with Leah, Sue loves cars with a bit of power.