I won the book Hester & Harriet by Hilary Spiers in a competition. I probably wouldn’t have read this book otherwise, but found it an easy, although slightly boring Christmas holiday read.
Hester and Harriet are widowed sisters who live together in a small English village. The only blight on the sister’s lives are their do-gooder cousins, who inflict their dull company and horrible cooking on them during the holidays. Coming up to Christmas, the sisters are not looking forward to their cousin’s boring conversation, hor d’oeuvres, which they call ‘little nasties’ and gluhwein. I had to Google gluhwein, which sounds truly horrible, but it turned out to be a sort of mulled wine.
Hester and Harriet are, under sufferance, on their way to their cousin’s for Christmas lunch when they notice someone at their local bus stop. Being Christmas, they investigate, and find a woman and a baby hiding inside. Hester and Harriet leap at the opportunity to take the woman and baby home with them, thus avoiding their cousin’s company and the terrible food. The woman and baby turn out to be illegal immigrants, who have been caught up in some nasty events.
Soon after Christmas, the fifteen year old son of the horrible cousins arrives on Hester and Harriet’s doorstep too, looking for relief from his parent’s nagging. He moves in for the week between Christmas and New Year while this story takes place, and provides a mixture of help and hindrance to the running of the sister’s household during his stay.
I still couldn’t tell Hester and Harriet apart by the end of the book. Although kind and sensible, I found the characters (and the story) to be slightly long-winded, with not enough story to hold my interest. There are plenty of issues, including illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, criminal activities, homelessness and infidelity going on, but these are only lightly touched on.
The story is written in the present tense too, which is not to my taste.
The excitement of winning a competition and receiving Hester & Harriet in the mail made my week, regardless of me not particularly liking the story.