The Mother of all Christmases by Milly Johnson – a story of various women as they discover their pregnancies

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

Three women become pregnant, and because their babies are due in December or January they join a new club – “The Christmas Pudding Club” – a lively group of women. Perhaps their babies are much longed for, a complete surprise, or a way out of a way of life; each woman brings her own thoughts to the group. Each woman has come from a different background, a different way of life, which seems to separate them on one level, but also bring them together in new ways. Not that everything is plain sailing by any means – being pregnant brings back difficult memories and deepens feelings for the women and those close to them. There are also many laughs to be found in this book; the humour of people working in a small business, the confusion in a company established to celebrate winter, the determination to improve a life. There are so many fascinating characters to read of, so many fascinating decisions, in a realistic group of settings. Though this book does not really mention Christmas itself, it has something of the magic of the season to be found. It certainly could be read at other times of the year with great enjoyment and feelings of so many kinds.

Eve has inherited a theme park which celebrates all things Winter, including Christmas itself. They employ a large group of people including a group of Welsh workers led by a string minded character called Effin. There is plenty to do at the park, including the maintenance of an erratic train. Not everything is as it seems, especially with romance on the cards. Eve does have a loving partner, whose ideas can be a bit flamboyant, but he is devoted to Eve, whatever happens. Annie is married to Joe, and they have been a loving couple for many years, even if they have always lacked children. They own and work in a small company making Christmas crackers, and are struggling to keep up even with their very modest turnover. Not that their workers are necessarily sad; they tell riotous jokes even online. Annie’s discovery that she is not experiencing the menopause but in fact pregnant is exciting for everyone, especially when she joins the club. Meanwhile Palma is a desperate young woman. Struggling against a poor upbringing, she is willing to do anything to escape the terrible area she lives in. Her desperation involves her in a scheme to act as a surrogate for a somewhat despicable couple in order to get the money for a fresh start. Moving to a new area may solve some problems, but can she really escape everyone from her past, even if she should? Her story is in some ways the most bumpy, and yet written with immense sensitivity. As these women meet together with others they give each other support that they never could have imagined, and lives and expectations are overturned.

This book is not just a straight story; there are interruptions from the local newspaper which feature their very funny mistakes and misspellings. The themes tackled in this book are fascinating, including a short note called “Paul’s Gift”. This book is not just a light romance as it tackles some issues that may well be familiar to many readers, such as the excitement of going to baby scans. I recommend this as a book not just for Christmas, but a thoughtful read for any time of the year.