Earlier this year I reviewed Poppy Alexander’s The Littlest Library here. Today I’m thrilled to host a guest post from Poppy on The 12 Days of Christmas publication day.
The 12 Days of Christmas is published by Orion today, 11th November 2021, and is available for purchase through these links.
The 12 Days of Christmas
‘All the joy of Christmas in one delicious, utterly mouth-watering package’ JULIE CAPLIN
The most magical time of the year…
For the first time in ten years, Freya is back in the little village of Middlemass for Christmas. The streets might be twinkling with fairy lights, but after the recent loss of her mother, she’s never felt less festive.
Forced to sleep under the same roof as her handsome neighbour Finn, Freya realises she’s going to need a distraction – fast! So she sets herself a challenge: to cook the ’12 Days of Christmas’. Her delicious food soon brings the villagers together, and as each day passes, old friendships are renewed, memories stirred and there’s even the flickering of romance…
She was only meant to stay for the holidays, but could Middlemass – and Finn – steal her heart forever?
Food, Glorious Food!
A Guest Post by Poppy Alexander
Hopefully it’s not just because I’m a glutton – although I am – but some of my fondest memories of Christmases past revolve around food, and my planning for Christmas future always starts with a list of the lovely things I would like to feed friends and family when we all come together (as hopefully we will this year!).
I was delighted when Linda invited me to share some of my favourite foodie Christmas thoughts and memories. Where do I begin?
I remember, when I was a teenager, there was a crowd of us sprawled uselessly and untidily around the kitchen table, the big brown tea pot steaming gently in the middle, and my poor mother, slaving away, rolling pastry and batch baking mince pies for the freezer. The rain was pouring down outside, but we were there, cosy and warm, hoovering up mince pies as fast as my mother could get them out of the oven. I am sure she was absolutely thrilled with us…My children insist they are too old for it now, but I still insist they are home on Stir it up Sunday – five weeks before Christmas when the puddings are traditionally made – so each member of the family can stir the batter and make a secret wish. Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book ‘Christmas’ is my starting point for Christmas pudding, although I vary the flavourings a little. Last year’s effort– we only needed a small one, sadly -had a good glug of Cointreau and some extra orange zest in the mix, and it was delicious (if I say so myself) served with soft, billowing clouds of cream, whipped with icing sugar and even more Cointreau.
I deliberately allow my TBR pile to become bigger than ever at Christmas, as only reading beats eating as my secret Christmas pleasure. Some of my favourite books evoke fabulous Christmas food images too: who can forget Bob Cratchett’s family stuffing spoons into their mouths while they waited for their roasted goose – the Victorians knew how to write about Christmas – or the Christmas feast in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when the White Witch was vanquished? This year, I will be reading some proper, gory crime, perhaps the latest from Kate Rhodes’ fabulous Scilly Islands series, along with some glorious romances to lift the spirits: Anything by Jules Wake or Veronica Henry does it for me, or you might find me re-reading an all-time favourite such as Jilly Cooper’s Riders, Austen’s Emma for the comedy or Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier for the heart-aching love story and the haunting atmosphere. Also, who doesn’t love a pirate?
Nigel Slater always writes superbly about food of course; my favourite Christmas cake recipe is from his Christmas Chronicles, which is a beautifully evocative read; a copy of this, with a glass of sloe gin and a comfortably glowing fire, and is the perfect way to slide, deliciously into the Christmas season. The cake has none of the usual Christmas spices in it – no, honestly, bear with me! –but is stuffed with fat, juicy dried fruits, peel and butter and all good things… I have had several people who profess to loathe Christmas cake accept a slice and then come back for more.
I have been wanting to write The Twelve Days of Christmas for a while and I adored contriving a recipe for each day of the famous carol – I detail all the recipes at the back of the book. It seemed to me that Freya’s sadness could be healed by her talent for and love of food, and that the Christmas holidays – along with the idea of a community coming together through food –creates such a wonderful catalyst for a romantic relationship to grow, although I didn’t want to make things too easy for Freya and Finn, so they find plenty of obstacles along their way…
Sold! Books, romance and food. That’s a totally winning combination for me Poppy. I can’t wait to read The 12 Days of Christmas. Thanks so much for such a smashing guest post.
About Poppy Alexander
Poppy Alexander wrote her first book when she was five. There was a long gap in her writing career while she was at school, and after studying classical music at university, she decided the world of music was better off without her and took up public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and a bit of journalism instead. She takes an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in her West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks) where she lives with her husband, children and various other pets.