With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s time to revisit Winterbourne House.
Writing this story was an absolute joy and I loved being able to get in a number of Christmas cracker jokes. When the book was in the beta editing stage, my American editor informed me she didn’t know what a Christmas cracker was and thought I needed to expand the context in the story for the benefit of overseas readers.
I found this a rather shocking revelation. Surely not a whole nation deprived of sharing Christmas crackers, pulling them apart with eyes scrunched waiting for the bang, to gain access to a (very likely) useless gift, a paper hat, and a joke that’s guaranteed to make everyone at the table groan.
Excerpt from Christmas at Winterbourne:
…JJ insisted on silence while she read out the joke from her cracker.
“Okay, everyone. Can you guess the answer to this? How did Scrooge win the football game?”
With a collective groan, they all shook their heads.
“The ghost of Christmas passed.”
More groans and a quick shuffle of hands digging the small slips of paper out from the rubble of the cracker debris left on the table.
Clare was the next to join in.
“Why did Santa’s helper see the doctor?” She looked around the table. “No takers. Okay. Because he had low elf esteem.”
Rose followed this. “What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?”
To Candice’s amazement, Mags jumped in. “Oh, I know that one. Jingle smells.”
They carried on around the table and only stopped when the next course was brought in.…
That was at the dinner on Christmas Eve. The guests had another chance to open crackers during the Christmas day lunch.
I was delighted when Clare Lydon posted her top festive picks and Christmas at Winterbourne was first on the list. Here’s what Clare said about the story:
Not a romance but rather an ensemble piece, this book is based in a rambling old estate in Sussex, run by lesbians and now a lesbian retreat. There a truckload of characters to get your head around at first – I got dizzy keeping up at one point – but once you do, you’ll find you’re a guest at the house, too, along with the couples young and old, the newly blooming romances, the heartbroken and the about-to-give-birth.
This book is a gentle observational snapshot of Christmastime in a house full of lesbians, replete with a touch of drama, along with lashings of mulled wine and mince pies. It’s an easy read that draws you in and has a bumper crop of cracker jokes, along with skinny dipping, snowball fights and flowing champagne.
Yes, there are a lot of characters and I make no apology for that. Just come on in and enjoy meeting the ‘ensemble’ as Clare said.
Back of the book description:
The Christmas festivities for the guests booked into Winterbourne House have all the goings-on of a traditional holiday. The only difference is that this guesthouse is run by lesbians, for lesbians.
When the guests arrive, tensions are already simmering between the house’s owner Wilma (Wil) and very pregnant partner, Gabriella. Wil has a lot on her plate… ensuring the smooth running of the events, looking after all the guests, including her in-laws and business partners. What she hasn’t planned for is a ghost from Christmas past.
Wil inherited Winterbourne from her adopted mother, Kim Russell, author of a series of successful lesbian novels. Most of the guests who stay, do so because they are fans of the author.
One guest, Sally Hunter, is on a mission to write Kim’s official biography. She meets with resistance from the people at the house she tries to interview, stirring up memories from those who knew the reclusive writer well.
For a bit of extra spice to the festivities, add in an unexpected snowstorm, a disappearing guest, and an imminent birth. Join the guests and staff at Winterbourne for a Christmas you’ll not soon forget.
And while we’re on the subject of Christmas, don’t miss out on Affinity’s Christmas Medley – a collection of stories from eight Affinity authors.