Christmas Deliverance by Amanda Egan


Publishing year: 2012


This is a novella about the Willoughby family at Christmas. Maggie, the mother, has been widowed for four years. She has four grown-up children, two girls and two boys, and this year at Christmas she wants to tell her children about her news. What she doesn’t know is that her offspring has been talking about one of them going to live with her.

The idea comes from Sophie, who is a prospective actress but who has no success in getting many parts. The last time Sophie talked to her mother, he noticed that she was too giggly and absent-minded, and she feared that her mother might be having dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sophie is quite imaginative and dramatic, and even though she feels her mother needs someone with her, she isn’t ready to forfeit her life in London, and her opinion is that Lucy, her younger sister, should move in with their mum.

Lucy is in a bit of a pickle. She has got pregnant after a one-night stand with a colleague when she went for a drink with her office. Lucy intends to keep quiet about the pregnancy, as she has decided to have a termination.

Oscar is the youngest son, who is in a relationship with Nina. He is not sure of his feelings, especially when his girlfriend keeps pressing him to move in with her. He has also been having an on-off relationship with Pip, who is Maggie’s neighbour’s daughter. They have grown up together, but for some reason they are never on the same page. Just a couple of days before Christmas, his mother calls him because the neighbour is worried about Pip, who hasn’t turned up or called. Oscar knows that Pip hates going to her parents’ so he just makes an excuse for his mother to tell the neighbour, and then when he calls Pip, he makes a lewd comment, which Nina overhears, and the next thing she knows, Nina has broken up with him, but he isn’t unhappy about it, and he starts thinking that it is high time he and Pip got together for once and all.

The eldest son is Giles, who has always been aloof in his relationship with his family. He is quite arrogant, well-off and treats women for his own pleasure. Yet, when we read his part, things aren’t going well for him. We understand that he has been involved in illegal activities at work, and when he is caught, he is fired and left with nothing. Giles is depressed and feeling lonely, and then he decides that the best he can do is to kill himself.

On Christmas Day Sophie, Lucy, and Oscar get to their mother’s. Giles has texted his mum, saying that he won’t be coming home for Christmas and his present will reach her at some point during the day.

As Maggie gets together with her children, she prepares herself to tell her news. I was pretty sure what it was from the very beginning, so it wasn’t a surprise, when she eventually announced the news. Yet, at this point she is unable to say anything, as there is a knock on the door. Oscar goes to answer it, and he finds a bassinet with a baby and a message. The message says that the baby’s name is Holly and need to be looked after.

Maggie and her two daughters assume that the baby is Oscar and Pip’s, but Oscar is unable to defend himself. Then he does a runner, so the three women are left alone to look after the baby. Holly is a lovely baby, and Lucy, who has always thought she didn’t have a maternal bone in her body, starts warming to her and considers to have the baby she is expecting.

On Boxing Day Oscar and Pip appear. They announce that they are together for good, but they claim that the baby is not theirs. Then Sophie starts sobbing. She has opened the package Giles has sent, and there is a letter from him, telling his mother that he can’t continue with his life, and he also confesses that he has a baby after a one-night stand and he hopes his mother will look after the baby. When everybody is getting emotional, Giles appears, explaining that he couldn’t go through with the suicide because he couldn’t stop thinking about his baby. Then Lucy announces that she is having a baby as well and is going to keep it. And finally Maggie tells her children that she has met someone, Stuart, and they are going to live together from now on.

Lovely novella. I enjoyed the characters and the plot.

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