Thursday 1 October 2020

The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke by Caroline Smailes @Caroline_S @RedDoorBooks #TheodoraQuirke #BookReview


Theodora Quirke has no reason to be merry. It's bad enough that she has to work on Christmas Eve but now there's a drunk bloke dressed as Santa and claiming to be St Nick hanging around outside her flat. Given he's professing to be the giver of Christmas miracles and nearly 2000 years old, she's wary.

Things get even more weird when St Nick insists he's there to save Theo. And with the next St Nicholas Day somehow fast approaching, he's even got a plan that'll change her life forever.

It all seems pretty straightforward, apart for one awkward fact:

Theodora Quirke doesn't actually need saving.

The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke by Caroline Smailes is published on 15 October 2020 by RedDoor Press. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

It is no secret that I am a massive Caroline Smailes fan. I have read all of her novels, and also The Finding of Martha Lost which she wrote under the name of Caroline Wallace.  I was so thrilled to receive a copy of #TheodoraQuirke, it's been a long time ...

Caroline Smailes loves Christmas, there is no doubt of that. Personally, I'm more of a 'Bah Humbug' myself and it's not often that a Christmas-themed book will find its way onto my blog. However, I do know that this author writes unusual and unique stories, so I was certain that this was going to be festive book I'd enjoy.

What an extraordinary story this is! This is Christmas themed, but not the joyous holiday that you know of. The title is absolutely perfect, as this clever author slowly and surely unwraps Theodora Quirke, reveals to the reader, and to Theo herself, just how damaged and fragile she is. We and she also learn just what an incredible, brave and totally amazing person she is too. 

The story begins on the night of Christmas Eve as Theodora is about to leave for a night shift 'wiping shitty arses', nobody else wants the night before Christmas shift and Theo is perfectly happy to do it. After all, she's alone and unloved. What else is there to do?
However, Theo doesn't make it to work that night. She meets St Nicholas of Myra on the doorstep of her shared living accommodation, and this unkempt, smelly and pretty dirty version of Santa Claus is about to change her life. 

This is a sweary book. Theo has spent much of her life in foster-care, she's old before her time, she's suffered and she is still suffering. She swears, as would any of us in her position. Just wanted to point that out .. 

With hints of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but in glorious technicolour instead of the muted greys and browns that we are used to, St Nick takes Theo and shows her scenes from her past. There are utterly heartbreaking moments, when Theo sees her mother; a sad, frightened girl, younger than Theo is herself. The first time we see Gabe; Theo's boyfriend; the guy whose death has shattered her already fragile heart into the tiniest pieces. It's wonderful, enlightening stuff. It's also packed with humour too, a welcome and sharp contrast to what could be so so bleak. 

There's another story interwined throughout the novel. That of Dottie; another grieving woman, another woman whose heart has been torn. Dottie's life changed so much when she made the decision to go for drinks with her work-mates. She will regret that decision until the day that she dies. However Dottie has faith. Her faith is in St Nick, and how he performs tiny miracles all over the world for the people who need them the most. 

Theo and St Nick face challenges along their journey, it's certainly not an easy ride. Not a case of 'here's what you were, what you are and what you could be' and go back to bed and all will be well in the morning. Oh no, there is so much more here. It is an absolutely wonderful story, written with warmth and passion. A story of loss, but such a story of hope. It's just exactly what Christmas is about.

Bravo Caroline Smailes, this really is magnificent.

Caroline Smailes' acclaimed debut novel, In Search of Adam, was published in 2007 (The Friday Project/HarperCollins). The Big Issue North declared the book 'an engrossing and touching read from a new talent'. Caroline’s subsequent novels include Black Boxes, international bestseller Like Bees to Honey, an experimental digital novel with eleven endings 99 Reasons Why and modern-day fairy tale The Drowning of Arthur Braxton (all HarperCollins). 

The film of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is in post-production, with an expected 2020 release.
Caroline lives in the North West of England. She is also known as Caroline Wallace, author of The Finding of Martha Lost (Transworld).
Twitter @Caroline_S
Instagram @carolinereadsbooks

Caroline Smailes will be in conversation with Luke Cutforth to celebrate the launch of her new book THE UNWRAPPING OF THEODORA QUIRKE

About this Event

Join us to celebrate the launch of Caroline Smailes' fantastic new novel. Caroline will be in conversation with YouTube sensation and director of 'The Drowning of Arthur Braxton', Luke Cutforth.

Pour yourself a drink, grab your Christmas jumper and settle down for an evening of stellar entertainment! Festive dress optional!

You can purchase a copy of The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke with your ticket to this event by selecting 'signed copy ticket' when you RSVP. Signed copy tickets include a signed copy of the novel plus a limited edition launch badge!

Get your ticket at this link 

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