Monday, October 14, 2019

Christmas at Foyles Bookshop by Elaine Roberts: Review, Extract & Giveaway!

Greetings!  I am featuring author Elaine Roberts today.  She has always had the dream to write for a living. She wrote her first novel in her twenties for which she received a polite rejection letter.  Life got in the way of her dream until 2010.  Ms. Roberts joined a creative writing class and sold her first short story in 2012.  More sales followed which boosted the authors confidence.  Elaine lives in Dartford, Kent with her husband, Dave.  They are empty nesters now that their five children have flown the coop.  Her home is never quiet, though, thanks to frequent visits from her children and grandchildren along with granddogs and cats.  Elaine Roberts is the author of The Foyles Girls series.  Ms. Roberts said one of the challenges with writing a historical novel is the research.  She said it is easy to get lost in the events (and end up with too much material).  When her research is done, she constructs a timeline of events.  This will be the basis of her story.  Her characters lives and what happens to them are woven around the historical events.  Foyles is a real bookstore chain located in the United Kingdom and they have a store on Charring Cross Road in London.  For the history of Foyles, click here.  You can find out more information about Elaine Roberts and her books by visiting her website.
Christmas at Foyles Bookshop by Elaine Roberts takes us to London in December of 1917 where World War I is still raging throughout Europe.  Victoria Appleton works at Foyles Bookshop with her two friends, Molly and Alice.  Victoria has spent the last seven years raising her two siblings after her parents died in a train derailment.  Her brother, Stephen is off fighting in the war while her sister, Daisy is a policewoman.  Victoria is still in love with Ted Marsden who took off just when she needed him after her parent’s death.  She has forgiven him and continues to write to him, but she has not heard from him recently.  Victoria wants to do something to help the war effort and decides to volunteer at Endell Street Military Hospital which is run by women. She finds her time there rewarding.  Victoria has yet to go through her parent’s belongings.  She has kept their bedroom locked for the last seven years. With her friends help, Victoria begins to sorting process and is shocked at what she discovers.  Alice, Molly and Victoria are surviving the war and they hope that their families will soon be reunited.
Foyles Bookshop from London fine art photography
Christmas at Foyles Bookshop by Elaine Roberts is the third tale in The Foyles Girls series, and I recommend that you read the series in order.  It will allow you to understand the characters and their relationships.  I thought Christmas at Foyles Bookshop was well-written with developed characters.  I could not wait to find out what is happening with Alice, Victoria and Molly.  They have been through so much and they face obstacles together.  These three friends consider themselves the three musketeers.  They are there for each other in the good times and the bad.  I like how all three ladies love books and enjoy working among them each day.  Christmas at Foyles Bookshop focuses on Victoria and her family.  Molly and Alice are present (of course) along with Mr. Leadbetter, the floor manager at Foyles.  I was surprised by the story which is a good thing.  There is so much going on (I do not want to spoil it for you) that you will stay up quickly devouring the story.  I thought the author captured the time period with the bombings, what the men are suffering at the front, the women worried about the loved ones off fighting, the wounded veterans needing assistance, the wounded pouring into London’s hospitals that are lacking staff and supplies, and what the wounded soldiers are suffering.  Victoria volunteers at Endell Street Military Hospital where she witnesses the wounded soldiers suffering.  The descriptions are not gory or off-putting.  Christmas at Foyles Bookshop is a satisfying story of love, perseverance, family and friendship. 
Extract from Christmas at Foyles Bookshop
She turned to scan the people walking along Charing Cross Road, their faces hidden from view as they bent their heads against the weather. Tilting her umbrella back a little, she saw Alice rushing towards her, holding her own umbrella high to avoid it clashing with others approaching her. The puddles splashed out with each step and covered the toes of her black ankle boots. Victoria waved at her friend. ‘Isn’t it awful? I’ll be glad when the summer arrives.’

Alice smiled. ‘Indeed, it will be nice to take Arthur to the park and let his little legs run around, to tire him out.’  Victoria turned and adjusted her umbrella. ‘Bless him, I can’t believe he’ll be two in a few months.’

Alice jumped aside as a car drove through a puddle. The dirty water splashed up over the foot of her boots, falling just short of the tops. The girls breathed a sigh of relief when the familiar sign of Foyles Bookstore came into view. Its large white lettering stood out in the greyness of the day. ‘Novels 3d and 2d Given on All Returns’.
Waterstones buys Foyles to defend bookshops against Amazon - BBC News
Alice beamed as she glanced across at Victoria. ‘I’m quite excited to have Molly back working with us today.’  ‘Yes, me too.’ Victoria tried to sidestep a puddle that was spreading across the pavement. ‘I wonder how her wedding plans are going?’ Alice chuckled. ‘I’m sure we’ll hear today.’

The girls took turns to close and vigorously shake their umbrellas. ‘Morning, Miss Appleton, Mrs Leybourne.’ Mr Leadbetter, their grey-haired manager, frowned at them as he watched them from just inside the doorway. ‘Morning, sir,’ the girls chorused in return.
Foyle Bookshop Charing Cross Road 1957
Mr Leadbetter smiled at the girls. ‘I’m sure you are aware that your partner in crime is back today.’ The girls giggled. Victoria began unbuttoning her coat. ‘I don’t know what you mean, sir.’ Mr Leadbetter chuckled. ‘I’m sure you don’t.’

Victoria glanced back outside at the pelting rain. ‘It doesn’t look like it’s going to be the weather for putting the book racks outside today.’ Mr Leadbetter frowned. ‘Not at the moment, but it might clear up later.’

They carried on walking through the towering shelves of books that were all around them, following the drip marks on the tiled flooring, out to the back of the shop, to hang up their coats and to clock on. The usual musty smokiness of the second-hand books was buried beneath the dampness of wet clothing.

‘Morning!’ Victoria yelled to the ladies milling around and received a chorus of replies. She slipped her coat off and hung it on a peg, before turning to walk away.
19 Fabulous Photos of London's West End in the 1950s by Allan Hailstone - Flashbak
A dong rang out as ladies inserted their cards into the clocking in machine. Molly came rushing in. ‘Oh goodness, I’m not late, am I?’ She took off her narrow-brimmed hat and ran her fingers through her long blonde hair.  The women all giggled at Molly’s flushed cheeks. There was a chorus of welcome back from around the room.

Victoria grinned at her friend and stepped forward to give Molly a hug. Molly’s usual floral scent was overpowered by the dampness of her coat seeping out onto the sleeves of Victoria’s white crinoline blouse. ‘Nothing changes.’ She laughed and turned back to her coat, thrusting her hand inside one of the deep side pockets. She pulled out the brown envelope, studying it for a moment, before folding it in half and pushing it into the pocket of her black calf-length skirt. Molly poked out her tongue.
 City gents browsing Foyles' outside stock then...
Christmas at Foyles Bookshop is available at Amazon (Amazon UK) and is available through Kindle Unlimited.  The first two books in The Foyles Girls series are The Foyles Bookshop Girls and The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War.  If you would like to win an ebook copy of Christmas at Foyles Bookshop, please leave a comment with your email address (so I can contact you if you win).  If you prefer (for your privacy), you can email me at with the title of the book in the subject line.  One winner will receive an digital version of Christmas at Foyles Bookshop.  The contest ends on October 20, 2019 at 11:59 EST.  Good Luck!  There is still time to win a copy of A Christmas Home by Marta Perry.  Click here to visit the page with the details on how to enter.  Thank you for joining me today. I hope you have a scintillating day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Wolfgang Suschitzky     Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London      1936


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog and the lovely review. I’m so pleased you enjoyed The Foyles Bookshop Girls Series. Elaine Roberts x

  2. Thank you avid reader this is wonderful I have read the book on my kindle and it's so wonderful looking forward to more from Elaine

  3. A great blog avid reader. Love reading about Foyles

  4. Such a great well deserved review x

  5. a great blog cant wait to read it x

  6. Super blog. I know I will love this book.

  7. A great review about a lovely book