Author: Ali Harris
Genre: Chick Lit
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: October 2011
Source: Review copy from publisher
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First sentence:I gaze out of my bedroom window into the dark winter morning as the snowflakes fall softly outside.
Evie Taylor, a girl with a big heart, gets lost in the big city. For the past two years, Evie has lived an invisible life in London. Her neighbours think she’s just moved in, her sister mistakes her for a live-in nanny, and even Evie’s manager at work can’t remember her name. But all that is about to change …this Christmas has brought a flurry of snow and unimaginable possibilities into town. Evie works in the stockroom of an old-fashioned, family-run, London fashion department store. Hardy’s is a beautiful, wood-panelled jewellery box of a building, but it’s in dire need of a makeover. One day Evie overhears that if the entire store’s takings don’t turn round by Dec 26th – 3 weeks’ time – the family who own it will be forced to sell to one of the big chains. Hardy’s is in need of a Christmas miracle. Determined to save her beloved store, Evie hatches a plan to secretly transform it into a magical place to shop again. But has the time come for her to be noticed too? When an accidental romantic encounter with handsome, enigmatic Joel gives her the chance of a whole new identity, she takes it.
From the gorgeously elegant cover art to the utterly cheerful atmosphere of the entire novel, Miracle on Regent Street is a book that I will definitely be rereading and recommending for years to come and it has got me into the Christmas spirit more than any tinsel or music ever could without needing to vomit Christmas. The entire novel is split into chapters and then days as it counts down the time Hardy’s has until store closure and the time Evie has to secretly transform the store and hopefully draw in enough customers to vastly increase profit takings in that time.
It is written in the present tense which usually throws me off for a little while when I first pick up a novel but not this time. The beauty of Ali’s gorgeous descriptive imagery drew me in so quickly that I didn’t even notice the tense. If anything, it added more to the novel as you feel just as if you are there watching over Evie’s shoulder. “It feels as if I have been magically transported back in time as I cycle into Portland Place. No vehicles are on the streets and I can’t help but imagine them when they were cobbled and filled with horses and carriages.” Evie herself is quite the dreamer and the descriptive passages reflect greatly on this as she imagines how things could be and might have been, and the writing style is just so warm and delightful, the only thing that was missing was a big mug of hot chocolate. I read most of this book with a smile on my face and when I wasn’t smiling I was either frowning at a nasty character or trying to ignore the tears in my eyes when the big emotional scenes happened near the end. Miracle on Regent Street is a book that just makes me happy and it’s extremely hard to put down. Seriously, if this book isn’t made into a movie one day I will be sorely disappointed!
But the thing that really made the novel for me was the amazingly diverse characters. Evie, for starters, is such a kind-hearted individual who just wants to be noticed. She’s let herself fall into obscurity and nobody she works with on the shop floor even knows her real name. However, underneath her mask of plain, invisibility she has this creative flair and very chic retro style that is so perfect for her task at Hardy’s to secretly transform the store into a great place to shop once more. She is just so easy to love with all of her self-doubt, I think we’ve all been there at some point. It does bother me, however, when characters overhear part of a conversation, jump to conclusions and run off crying without even attempting to confront anybody about what they have heard. Evie does this a lot and I just wished she would go to the person and say, “Excuse me, are you doing x?” Because then they could have chance to explain themselves! Perhaps it’s just me. The drama as a result does bring about a gripping story after all. As for everybody else, every single character is so different from the next with different looks, styles and personalities that you really believe they could exist, and alongside all of the Christmas cheer there is also the bitter drama of real life from all angles. It’s very real and I like that, but it is by all means a highly animated story.
I knew I would love this book before I even started it because it just sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? As such I have already recommended it to several people and I will continue to do so but now with more knowledge of just how wonderful it is. With all of its’ cheer and sparkle, Miracle on Regent Street is a fantastic book to beat the Winter blues and I can’t praise it enough. I love it!