“It was true she had fire in her belly, a lust for adventure and a craving for excitement that she knew she’d never find living in a small village.”
I’ve read all of Glenda Young’s books so far, and I maintain that it’s impossible to pick a favourite, but if I had to; then this one would certainly be a strong contender. Cakes, Christmas and a whole lot of smashing the patriarchy – what more could you possibly want in a saga? Although it would be hard to choose a favourite book of Glenda’s so far, Emma is without a doubt my favourite character she’s written. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of our hardy Ryhope lasses who conquer their fears and overcome huge obstacles to find their inner fire, but what particularly charmed me about Emma is how she arrives in Ryhope with her fire already blazing; perhaps a little too brightly! At first, as much as she made me chuckle, I didn’t really feel sorry for her in the way I usually do for the heroines Glenda writes. Even though it gets her into some sticky situations, I love how Emma seems to just let whatever ideas or observations pop into her head fly out of her mouth or transpire into action with absolutely no regard for the consequences. I suppose the polite way of saying it is that she has no filter, and I can’t imagine why I would relate to someone with that particular ailment (although I’m sure my husband would have a theory).
So, after bursting into Ryhope with a somewhat colourful entrance, Emma has the reverse journey of the heroines who have come before her; gradually learns to see things from other people’s perspectives and, thankfully, fine tunes her ability to judge other people’s characters, realising that there is often more to people than what is apparent on the surface. Similarly, I quite enjoyed seeing Emma’s leading man’s journey from a brooding, rude and somewhat of a Marmite character to a dependable, thoroughly wholesome and definitely fanciable type. He’s also somewhat of a modern man, almost feminist in his support for Emma and her leading ladies which I really loved. Of course I won’t name names for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but it was an interesting twist between Emma’s character development around becoming more balanced and less led by her emotions, and him learning to push through his instinct to be cautious and fear of feeling anything too deeply. By the end, they were balancing each other out perfectly.
“Being with him made her feel free in the same way as she felt roaming the hills above Loughshinny.”
I’ve made no secret of my desire to have a spin-off novel where all of Glenda’s feisty heroines unite and take on the world together. So, I was absolutely thrilled to see all of them getting together in the final chapters for Women’s Christmas (a tradition which I will certainly try and implement in my family; as the one who usually gets lumbered with cooking the dinner it seems only fair!). Emma’s story is also set a few years later than our other heroines’, so it was very nice to see that they are all still settled and thriving in Ryhope by 1923. As if we would expect anything less from these fearless females, though?
“Ryhope becomes a part of your very being. It embraces every part of you.”
As always, my only criticism of Glenda’s saga novels is that I want more. I’m a glutton for the triumphs and tribulations of her feisty Ryhope heroines and my need to know what they get up to next will never be satiated. But, ‘A Mother’s Christmas Wish’ has left me feeling more than sufficiently festive, itching to hear my boots crunching in the snow and peckish for some apple cake (even though I’ve never actually had it) – so any recipes would be greatly received!
Glenda Young credits her local library in the village of Ryhope, where she grew up, for giving her a love of books. She still lives close by in Sunderland and often gets her ideas for her stories on long bike rides along the coast. A life-long fan of Coronation Street, she runs two hugely popular fan websites.