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23 October 2009

Over the Holidays: Review

Title: Over the Holidays
Author: Sandra Harper
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 2009
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781439158708


From the Publisher's website:

The best holiday traditions are meant to be broken.
It's only December 1, and Vanessa Clayton has been dreading Christmas since she spotted tinseled trees at her local mall in September. Thankfully, she and her husband, JT, can't afford to drag their twin boys across the country to New England for the annual celebration at her stuffy sister-in-law Patience's home. Not that Vanessa has prepared a proper Christmas for her family in years, and she has less time than ever since she agreed to consult on the script of a local play. Her older sister, Thea, is no help -- she'd rather make art and flirt with surfers than babysit her nine-year-old nephews. Then Patience drops a holiday stress bomb: Her family will come to California instead.

In between "baking" cinnamon rolls for the school potluck and overbearing Patience testing her patience, Vanessa can't stop thinking about the difficult but charming playwright at work. Meanwhile, Patience's teenage daughter, Libby, obsesses over a college boy she has met by the pool, and Thea searches desperately for the meaning of Christmas -- for her latest installation, of course. As their holiday plans go comically awry, these four women discover the true spirit of the season is hidden in every festive surprise.

My review:

Delightfully witty, at times deliciously sarcastic, Over the Holidays is a novel about family, traditions, and self-discovery. The youngest, Libby is a senior in High School and facing the cusp of adulthood and all the turmoil that comes with newfound independence. Thea is an unmarried artist, going through a two-year artistic dry streak and desperately looking for inspiration. Her sister Carol, married with twin 9 year olds is running herself frazzled trying to be type of wife and mother she thinks she should be based on the other moms she encounters as well as comparing herself to her perfect sister in law, Patience. Meanwhile her sister-in-law, Patience, known for her elaborately stunning Christmas Eve parties, decides to fly her family to California for the holidays, since Carol refused to fly from California to Massachusetts for another elaborate Patience Christmas. Each woman is struggling within to define who they are and ultimately to learn the grass is not greener on the other side, just different. Libby's coming of age, Thea embracing who she is with or without a boyfriend, Carol realising all she wants is within her reach and Patience's learning how to survive an empty nest, I believe every woman can relate to at least one character in this novel. Sandra Harper offers the reader an insightful look into woman and the traditional roles woman play, as well as the insecurities, the hopes, the dreams and desires we all face. I found Over the Holidays to be wonderfully refreshing an enjoyable read. I highly recommend this novel for yourself or a gift; after all, the holidays are just around the corner.

About the author:

Sandra Harper is the author of the play, Magpie's Tea Room, which enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles at The Ventura Court Theatre. She has written a cooking column, "The California Cook" for the newspaper, Skirt. A script reader for Pathe Studios and Springcreek Productions, she also wrote and produced fashion and rock videos for Elvis Costello, Chaka Khan and Vidal Sassoon, amonf others. Ms. Harper recieved her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California and has completed a children's book, The Witches Club.

I received a copy of Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper from Simon & Schuster as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



LiveLaughLoveCj said...

I knew it!! When you listed this book as on of the ones you had hoped to read and review this week, I commented, It sounded like a good read.
Now, again, here is another for the wish list! Jennifer I'll be reading straight through the winter as my list grows and grows because of all the great reads you've brought to our attention.

My love affair with books is also growing. Thanks in part to you!

Well done - again!

Feeling Fit With Dana said...

I love to read and this sounds like a fun read! Thanks so much!!! Stopping by from SITS!

GMR said...

Enjoyed the review! I've seen this one advertised recently over on LibraryThing. The cover drew my attention first but the story sounds like a fun romp through the craziness of the holidays. Glad to hear it meets expectations!

Diane said...

sounds like a fun filled holiday read for stress-filled times. great review.

Dar said...

Great review! This one is definitely going on my wishlist! It sounds like a great read.

Bluestocking said...

Christmas really is a rough time of year.

Teddyree said...

Terrific review, this is one I'd love to try, on my wishlist it goes!