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A Snow Garden and Other Stories

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,439 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Seven stories to span the Christmas holidays:

A Faraway Smell of Lemon: The School Term has ended. It is almost Christmas but Binny, out last-minute shopping couldn't feel less like wishing glad tidings to all men. Ducking out of the rain she finds herself in the sort of shop she would never normally visit.

The Marriage Manual: Christmas Eve. Two parents endeavour to constru
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 5th 2015 by Doubleday
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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“We are at the centre of our own stories. And sometimes it is hard to believe that we are not at the centre of other people’s. But I love the fact that you can brush past a person with your own story so big in your mind and at the same time be a simple passer-by in someone else’s. A walk-on part.”

Rachel Joyce gives a master class in how to write a short story compilation in A Snow Garden And Other Stories. All seven story interlink but at the same time they're all different and each of them has
Amalia Gkavea
Extremely disappointed with this collection. I expected so much more from Rachel Joyce. This one was full of unsympathetic characters (which is fine by me but to everything there is a limit and in this case I’ve had enough with women and men who were either whining or screaming or crying hysterically), stories about troubled relationships, troubled marriages, love troubles, shopping troubles and troubles in general and an exhausting repetition of how we perceive Christmas in our times. Also the ...more
Sharon Bolton
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“We are at the centre of our own stories. And sometimes it is hard to believe that we are not at the centre of other people’s.”

I am not a great fan of the short story, finding it tantalizing but incomplete, unsatisfying somehow, and I’d rarely pick up a collection of short stories, even by a writer as talented as Rachel Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry). But the idea behind this collection is so simple, and yet so brilliant, that I’m almost certainly going to steal it one day soon.
Every once in a while you find a writer that seems to have a way with words that seems to speak directly to you, the reader. It is a talent coveted by many, and one that Rachel Joyce possesses. Her novels “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry“, “The love song of Miss Queenie Hennessey” and “Perfect” have all been favorites of mine. Now, with this book, she has written seven linked stories with a Christmas theme running throughout.

It has to be said that I even enjoyed the forward. In it the auth
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

A literary treasury of interconnected short stories which shared a variety of themes and emotions, a more genuine look at the holiday season than most I’ve read. These aren’t all happy-happy stories about the joys of the holiday season, which made me love this collection even more.

In the Foreward, Joyce shares a story, a joke, about an actress playing the part of the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, and someone asking her what the play is about.

Now the nurse is a nice part for an older wom
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas-books
There is something very appealing about the stories in this collection. They are not the typical stories one expects at Christmas. There is a depth and a subtlety to them. There is a connection made in each story, whether it be a husband and wife, father and sons, strangers, family. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Rachel Joyce is a wonderful writer and she brings to life all these people that we get to meet.
Definitely recommend this one.
Diane Barnes
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rachel Joyce is the author of 2 of my favorite books in the past couple of years: "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye", and it's companion novel, "The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey". Both of those books were about normal people trying to live good lives, needing to make connections with others, and trying to do so in sometimes surprising ways.
This is a book of short stories centered on the time between Christmas and New Years, 7 stories with seemingly nothing in common except the pictu
Dec 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: Rachel Joyce's new collection "A Snow Garden and Other Stories" glides through the festive season with interlinked stories which delight and surprise. From an unexpected birth at an airport full of stranded travellers, a famous son wanting to escape the madness for a normal family dinner, to a divorced father's wish to give his two little boys the one thing they really want, a white Christmas. Five stories as funny, joyous, poignant and me
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Snow Garden is a volume of seven Christmas-themed short stories by award-winning British actress, radio playwright and author, Rachel Joyce, who explains that these are the characters who have been cut from other works: “Sometimes I picture all these characters stuffed in my (writing) caravan, making a nuisance of themselves, and the racket is quite something. So I loved the idea that I could clear them out, as it were, by giving them each a story of their own.”

In A Faraway Smell of Lemons: It
Katie Lumsden
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and moving - a great new release for Christmas!
I read five of the seven stories last December and then finished the book off this week. Two stand-outs were “The Boxing Day Ball,” a prequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, describing how Harold and Maureen met, and “A Faraway Smell of Lemon,” in which a woman mourning the end of her relationship wanders into a cleaning supplies store and learns the simple lesson that everybody hurts. (“Life is hard sometimes” – fair enough, but can we say it without a cliché?) “I’ll Be Home for Chris ...more
2.5 stars

To be honest, I was hoping for a bit more. I liked some of the stories but most of them left me a bit underwhelmed.

Originally posted on This Chick Reads

*Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review *

‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy’ was one of my favourite reads last year, so I was uber excited when I got Rachel Joyce’s new collection of short stories to read. As I’ve been reading Christmas books for the last month, I simply couldn’t wait to check these stories.

‘A Snow Garden and Short Stories’ is definitely a festive must read. It’s so unlike any other Christmas books I’ve ever re
I really liked that these stories were connected somehow, especially by the mysterious “girl in the red coat” that ran throughout all of them. I couldn’t help but wonder what her story was, and that is what kept me so motivated to keep reading the book. (view spoiler) ...more
Suad Shamma
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, 2016
I really wasn't a fan of this one, which is sad because I usually love Rachel Joyce's story and I was looking forward for a nice warm Christmas read. Out of 7 short stories, I liked only 2 of them - and even those were not fantastically great, but just better than average.

Maybe Joyce's forte does not lie in writing short stories, because a lot of them felt contrived, unrealistic, and abrupt. There were no explanation to fantastical things, there was no depth to the characters, and we didn't have
Julie Morris
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have to start this review with a humiliating admission - I have not read any of Rachel Joyce's other work. I know this is awful. I have a copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry sat in my TBR pile and for some reason I just have not got round to reading it yet. I intend to rectify this very soon, having read A Snow Garden & Other Stories.

This is a small book containing seven short stories which revolve around peripheral characters that were cut from her other works, but whom she has been
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great read, especially at Christmas time!! I do hope to read more of Rachel Joyce's work! ...more
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
Rachel Joyce's new collection "A Snow Garden and Other Stories" glides through the festive season with interlinked stories which delight and surprise. From an unexpected birth at an airport full of stranded travellers, a famous son wanting to escape the madness for a normal family dinner, to a divorced father's wish to give his two little boys the one thing they really want, a white Christmas. Five stories as funny, joyous, poignant and memorable as Christmas s
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
With this collection of stories Rachel Joyce has proved herself a more than competent short story writer – an art I think sometimes under-appreciated these days. I do think that the stories Rachel Joyce writes in her novels are explored in greater depth and with greater subtlety than these stories perhaps allow – however they are all surprisingly touching and rather lovely and make for bittersweet Christmas reading. In her Foreword, Rachel Joyce explains her own feeling about short stories – a f ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
It surprised me that Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I read almost in its entirety on a flight over to the US in September, was so good. I was therefore quite keen to read more of her work, and plumped for this seasonal collection of short stories as my next choice. Each and every one is thoughtful, and whilst some are better and linger in the mind far longer than others, there is always an element of surprise to them. There is something about Joyce's writing that fee ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
A Snow Garden would’ve been more meaningful if the characters could be more emotionally developed so we could connect with each of them more and felt their depth. 2.9 stars, complete review is up on my blog.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This is a collection of short stories from the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. The stories are linked with small references to each other and all each day in the Christmas week (though some are clearly different years).

A Faraway Smell of Lemon: Binny is doing some last minute Christmas shopping and is trying to cope with the fact her husband has just left her. It's such a simple story with a limited plot but it shares a wealth of emotion and gives us a fantastic character.

I like Rachel Joyce's books, but I've only ever listened to them as audiobooks. As for "A Snow Garden", I'm sure it's not the book, nor the beautiful writing... It must be just me: I don't seem to enjoy short stories as I used to. I kept hoping I the next one would be better, but I never found it so. Also, it took me ages to read 75% because of a Christmas and New Year house full of guests, so I just couldn't sit down and read whenever I wanted. I guess I'd have enjoyed the audiobook better, may ...more
Kelly Furniss
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I listened to these stories via Radio 4 Book at Bedtime.
This book contains seven interlinked Christmas themed stories. I was interested to see how the author wrote in short bursts as her other novels have all been quite large but I enjoyed her writing and it was nice listening to these festive tales daily leading up to and just over Christmas.
The stories never blew me away but kept me engaged. I would like to read more short stories by this author.
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I gave 3 stars cos I'm not a lover of short stories, I always want more, especially with a couple of these stories. I wanted to know what was going to happen in the future and how did everything turn out, but they were short stories and I did enjoy them. I liked the way the stories were connected together. ...more
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but not as much as I hoped. It didn't really have the ultimate Christmas feeling. The first 2 stories where even a bit sad. I liked how all the stories where mixed together. Some stories where a complete story and some felt like they missed something. They weren't as wrapped up. Overall I liked it, but not enough for four stars. ...more
Karen Mace
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: hardback, bookclub
This was an enjoyable little collection of short stories that were all linked although some stories were more enjoyable than others!
Beth Knight
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nice stories, especially during the holidays. The cover is gorgeous, too!
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Story One ~ A Faraway Smell Of Lemon.
Binny cannot deal with Christmas. Her boyfriend has left her for another woman and she has not got the heart to do Christmas. That is until she has a chance encounter with a woman who works in a cleaning shop. Will the woman's words of wisdom shake Binny and help her give her children the Christmas they want?

Story Two ~ The Marriage Manual. Alan and Alice are building a bike together for their son Will. It does not go well. There are no instructions and the
Gaby Meares
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in. Greek proverb

I can prescribe A Snow Garden as the perfect antidote to the general feeling of despair that pervades our world at present.

Here are six stories (and a Forward not to be skipped) that gently draw the reader into lives that are messy and complicated and funny and sad. The characters we meet discover sometimes extraordinary and sometimes ordinary facts that have previously eluded them. In The
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Jeni and Leigh's ...: A Snow Garden 9 10 Dec 27, 2017 09:27AM  

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Rachel Joyce has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and ...more

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“Stories are important. We need them. It is through telling and hearing stories that we make sense of the world. Like dreams, they come to us when we are quiet and they tell us something or remind us of something that we need to hear. They say to us, 'No, you’re not alone. Because that thing you feel, I feel it too.' And sometimes they ask us to think again.” 2 likes
“Silently he had moved within her until deep inside she opened like a flower.” 1 likes
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