Having read Caroline Smailes’ work before, I knew not to expect a typical fluffy Christmas story when I started The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke. What this is is a quirky (no pun intended) yet heart-warming story of a young woman who has lost everything she loves and who finds a way to live again.

Theo is 19 and already has suffered so much loss and upheaval in her life so when St Nick turns up on her doorstep she’s understandably sceptical. Here’s where it gets unusual, a little bit bonkers, and really rather lovely. St Nick is out to save her and even if she doesn’t think she needs it, the journey ahead is destined to change her life.

I loved the way Smailes brought Theo and St Nick to life in such a glorious fashion. The book is set in Liverpool and there’s a very down to earth feel about it that is characteristic of that city. It’s also full of dry humour which had me smiling a lot. St Nick is quite a character and the descriptions of what he was wearing (or not, as was often the case) and his dubious cleanliness was fantastic and so funny.

I don’t know how the author came up with such an original idea for a story but coupled with her trademark brilliant and sweary voice it makes for a winning combination.

This is a great book for this time of year as Christmas approaches, and if you like something that isn’t saccharine but is still a feel-good story then look no further. It was an absolute pleasure to spend a couple of days in the company of Theo and St Nick in a world of miracles, the unexpected, friendship, loss and love.

Review by Nicola Smith, Short Books and Scribes

Publisher : RedDoor Press (15 Oct. 2020)
ISBN-13 : 978-1913062514