BOOK CLUB: The Winter We Met

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Every year, from 1 December, I start reading Christmas themed novels. It started ever since I read Grisham’s ‘Skipping Christmas’ while on a work trip overseas just days before Christmas. I had been so busy, I hadn’t got in the Christmas spirit, and somehow that book helped. Since then, I’ve used Christmas themed books to enjoy a bit of Christmas joy.

This year, I started early with ‘The Winter We Met’ by Samantha Tonge. This book was so much more than I expected. I just expected a simple girl meets boy romance book with some Christmas scenes, but it was richer than that. The characters were great, and there’s an Aussie character in this northern hemisphere based novel. I also loved the business talk through the novel. The toy shop perspective takes you back to your childhood and Willow Court, the aged care home, makes you ponder ageing – a real journey through this book.

Let me tell you what it’s all about:

Nik and Jess meet on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair. As they land, Jess invites him to visit the toy shop she works at. While they’re together, Jess finds out that Willow Court, her grandmother’s care home, is set to close before Christmas. Jess decides to throw the best Christmas party ever. Nik supports Jess all the way, working with her best friend, Oliver, to help her meet her goals in time for Christmas. Could it be a happy ever after story, or would that be too good to be true? 

I highly recommend this book if you like Christmas stories, the joy of toy shops, rich, interesting characters or just a feel-good cozy Winter story!

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading this with us, and they will leave their feedback in the comments section below.

Copies courtesy of Head of Zeus

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Winter We Met

  1. A beautiful story leading up to Christmas and a gently reminder of how vulnerable our aged generation are in certain circumstances. A reminder that friends can be family and the support we give each other.
    Nick and Jess’s chance meeting on a plan evolves into a lovely friendship. Oliver and Jess are friends and share a unit. The friendship is one of a kind.
    As the story of Christmas in the aged care home evolves friends support each other through some tough emotional times. Where will it lead to?
    A story to be read and enjoyed.
    I loved it!

  2. I loved this story, especially as it mainly revolved around upcoming Christmas, and a huge change in the lives of some elderly in a care home.
    The compassion and care for these wonderful souls, was absoutely heartwarming. I had tears of sadness as I could only almost feel their confusion and hopelessness come through in the storyline. At the same time, I laughed at their ‘theories’, but most of all loved the eay they all came together, to plan an unforgetable party. The help and caring they received from the younger characters, was a joy to read.
    The touch of romance with some of the main young characters, with a big twist at the end, made this a wonderful light read, but one I read in a night, and could not put down. Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read and review this heartwarming story.

  3. I received this book on Friday evening, started it on Saturday afternoon and finished it on Sunday night.

    When English Jess meets Australian Nik on a flight home from a toy fair they click immediately and form an ongoing friendship.

    Jess’s beloved grandmother Alice, resides at Willow Court and in a shock phone call it is revealed that the care home is to close.

    Between finding a new home for Alice, planning the final Christmas party and an inspiring role as manager of a toy store, will Jess manage to find love?

    It was an easy and engaging read with likeable characters and a satisfying finish.

    I liked the theme for the last Christmas party celebration in the nursing home and the way the residents and their relatives genuinely cared for each other. 

    Thanks to Harper Collins and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this great book. 

  4. I love Christmas themed books, I always read them in the lead up to Christmas to help me get into the spirit of things and embrace the joy. The Winter We Met definitely helps all this along! It took a slightly unexpected turn, though, which made it fascinating. Jess meets Nik on a flight back to the UK after a toy convention in Europe. He’s Australian, another toy maker, and very attentive and attractive. So at first I thought it would be all about the toy shop Jess works in. Wrong! She also has a wonderful grandmother in care at Willow Court, an aged care facility, and we get to meet the residents there too. Believe me, they and their stories will capture your heart. I think everyone needs a reminder about how rich it is to care for the vulnerable – the very old and the very young – and Jess and Nik indeed do this. Then there’s Oliver, Jess’ wonderful flat mate, who’s solid and dependable and supportive in everything, including the residents of Willow Court. Just so many heart-warming characters. The scenes in the toy shop are really good fun. (And you how difficult their job must be at times! But ultimately rewarding.) All the feels in this book, with a few twists and turns and the gift of Christmas magic in the end…

  5. You never quite know who you will end up next to on a plane when flying alone. Jess accidentally took the wrong seat on the plane but it turned out to be just the right place for her. Enter Nik, an Aussie exploring options for his family toy manufacturing business, fresh from the same conference Jess was at, exploring ideas for her workplace “Under the Tree” toy store.
    They hit it off straight up, who’d have thought it would lead to an amazing friendship with potential for so much more.
    Arriving home Jess found her world turning upside down. Her Gran, Alice, lives in a care facility which had come on hard times, this she knew. But when next visiting Alice, Jess found out that the facility was soon to become a hotel and the occupants are destined to be without a place to stay shortly before Christmas. The time of year where things are busy in the toy business, loved ones are planning events and most importantly, the residents at Alice’s home’s favorite event, a Christmas party.
    Jess found that her new friend Nik is an amazing help, working towards making the last days for her Gran and friends special. This making Jess’s house mate Oliver nervous, suspicious and causes tension in a friendship that had previously been almost perfect.
    Can she help her Gran move successfully, can they pull off an amazing Christmas party for the aged home, does she find romance with the introduction of a new friend.
    A good read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was so glad the ending was as it should be, despite all the hills needed climbing. Thank you Beauty & Lace for the chance of a touching read.

  6. This is a wonderful Christmas based romantic story focusing on Jess who works at a toy store, as fate will have it meeting a tall handsome stranger that is willing to help her with relocating her grandmother from the aged care home that is closing. A final Christmas party is planned by the residents and with a bit of help from the locals and families a sad ending to the care home becomes a celebration.
    Jess is so focused on what needs to be done with both work and with the care of her grandmother that she nearly doesn’t see the happiness that is right in front of her eyes. This is a great easy to read fun story with some great characters, I could easily see this being made into a Netflix Christmas movie of the season.
    Thank-you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for giving me the opportunity to read & review The Winter we met’ by Samantha Tonge.

  7. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read The Winter we Met by Samantha Tonge.
    Loved the book, it is full of interesting characters. A lovely easy to read Christmas romance story.

    Jess is the manager of Under the Tree toy shop. She is returning home to the UK after visiting a toy fair. Nik, an Australian, has also visited the toy fair to research products for his family’s toy manufacturing business. He sits next to Jess on the plane.

    Jess at 29 and single is very taken with Nik……..lots of shared interests, definitely handsome and she feels an instant connection. Will he be the one, she hopes so!

    Her best friends are Oliver, her flat mate and Seb her work colleague. She hopes they will like Nik too.

    Jess’s Gran Alice, lives in a Care home Willow Court. In a sudden and unexpected email the residents are informed the home is to be sold and they are to be out before Christmas. The residents have formed great friendships and they are devastated. They have always had a themed Christmas party…….but this year they are not in the festive mood. They need to spend time finding some where else to live.
    Jess, Nik, Oliver and Seb helps them to plan a Christmas party to remember.

    Will Jess get a Christmas to remember too?

  8. I thorough enjoyed “The winter we met’ by Samantha Tonge. It had a well thought out storyline with lovely characters that were easy to like. I found myself getting lost in the story and seeing it like a movie in my head! Having visited my Nanna in her nursing home many, many times, it gave me more of an insight to the nursing home ‘scene’ and how those people living there because like their own little family. In Australia it doesn’t snow at winter time, but it would be a lovely book to curl up in a chair in front of a roaring fire and read on a cold winter’s night.

  9. This book is a must read in the lead up to Christmas and agree with one of the other reviews that this would make a fantastic Netflix Christmas movie.

    I got a little frustrated with the main character at time’s, but overall I found it a fun an easy read.

    I will definitely look for more by this author in the future

  10. What a fantastic read from beginning to end!
    I absolutely loved this book and the beautiful heartfelt story it told.
    I thought it had a bit of a Jo Jo Moyes vibe to it so if you like her books, you’ll absolutely fall in love with this one!
    Loved all of the characters and my favourite part was Alf’s theory on Nik, so cleverly written and full of emotion.
    I think this is up with my most enjoyable book of the year and it would be an awesome book to make into a movie.
    So glad I got chosen to read this wonderful ebook and cant wait to read other books written by Samantha Tonge

  11. What a fantastic read leading up to Christmas. I really enjoyed “The winter we met’ by Samantha Tonge, and found it flowed nicely. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review this great book.

  12. Thank you for the opportunity to read The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge.

    This was a wonderful ebook about Jess and Nik who meet after a toy fair. I thought this would be a large part of the book, but it is more a book of Jess’s grandmother’s nursing home Willow Court. She gets an email to advise the home is about to close and coming up to Christmas no-one is feeling the Christmas spirit. Jess and Nik help to organise a last Christmas party for all the residents for lasting memories. Jess’s flatmate Oliver and her workmate Seb also assist and it’s interesting to see how the dynamic works.

    Having relatives in a nursing home I really empathised with this side of the book and really wanted the party to be the best it could for all their sakes. There are so many characters in the nursing home I know, and this was really brought to life by Samantha.

    I would thoroughly recommend this book for any romance and Christmas lovers.

  13. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read and review The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge.

    if you enjoy feel good Christmas stories then you will enjoy this book.

    While the story begins with Jess and Nik meeting on a plane after an international toy fair, the book rapidly becomes about the trauma felt by the residents of Jess’ Gran’s nursing home (Willow Court) after they are suddenly faced with the imminent closure of their home not long before Christmas. The dynamics are fascinating, the thoughtlessness of the nursing homes owners in the way they notify the residents, and begin removing things that make the place feel like home while the residents are still trying to come to terms with what has gone on. The staff who are losing their jobs, and yet are doing everything they can to make things easier for the residents. The residents who all respond in different ways to the news. Into this drama plunges Nik who seems to good to be true, he charms everyone he meets, dealing with those with dementia in the most amazingly gently way, ingratiating himself with even the surliest of the residents, and causing Alf (the conspiracy theorist) to start taking notes in his little book, and eventually reach the most startling conclusion.

    Meanwhile Jess is falling for Nik, egged on by her work colleague Seb, while at the same time her relationship with her house mate Oliver seems to be falling apart. Will Nik (with help from Jess, Seb and Oliver) create an early Christmas party that the residents will remember forever, or is Oliver’s distrust of him justified?

    It’s only towards the end of the book that it all comes together, but some of the messages within it, particularly about the way we interact with our older generation should be encouraging everyone of us to stop and think, and maybe approach some things and people differently.

    My only criticism of the book is in Tonge’s characterisation of Nik as an Australian. She suggests that Australians refer to Facebook as Facey, perhaps this is something endemic to the eastern coast of Australia, but as a South Australian I have never heard Facebook referred to as Facey. In the same vein she has Nik state that Australian’s celebrate two Christmases, one on December 25, but another one in July to get the whole having Christmas in the cold concept. Whilst I know that some do a Christmas in July get together, it is not widespread, and certainly does not provide a boom for retailers as suggested in the book.

    Leaving those anomalies aside the tale flowed well, Jess and Oliver were believable characters, Nik less so (nobody can be that nice) and the descriptions of the residents of the nursing home and their reactions to the closure of their home well done.

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