Zoella Book Club: Reviewing Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss 

Keep reading to find out how team Zoella rated the December read…

Christmas time calls for putting your feet up with a bunch of feel-good fiction, so if you’ve yet to pick your final read of 2022, then put this one on your list asap. Featuring a boarding school reunion, plenty of happily ever afters and a midnight snow croquet in a castle, all set around Christmas time in the British countryside, Jenny Bayliss’ latest novel is sure to get you in the festive spirit. And if you’re looking for a perfectly uplifting, easy-going read for that luxurious stretch of time between Xmas and New Year, otherwise known as Betwixmas, then this one ticks all the boxes! 

The gorgeously festive Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is a heartwarming story perfect for curling up next to a roaring fire and embracing what the holiday season is really all about: slothing about the house in Christmas pjs for 5-7 working days. 

So, recover from the chaos of shopping, gift-wrapping and rearranging the Christmas tree (relatable), and plonk yourself on the sofa with this fictional cracker and a smorgasbord of Boxing Day leftovers. 

Keep reading to find out how team Zoella rated the December read…

The blurb

A winter wedding of old friends should be the event of the year. Gathering near their former school for a lavish, week-long celebration, it’s a chance for Nory Noel to reunite with her best friends. But now in their thirties, that group has long since drifted apart.

Nory suspects she’ll spend the week wrestling into spanx, and dodging questions about her non-existent plus one. Only her fearless, fabulous best friend Ameerah can persuade her to go.

At the venue of a stunning Kent castle, it’s not long before personalities clash and old tensions begin to bubble up. Nory finds herself slipping away – and unexpectedly crashing into Isaac, the castle’s gardener and her former school rival.

Nory and Isaac have more in common these days than they ever thought possible. But as she steals more time away from the festivities to spend with Isaac, he reveals an astonishing secret about his family’s past. Nory knows she alone can help right this wrong – but uncovering the truth might mean pushing Isaac away once more.

Lareese’s Review

Bah humbug alert, I don’t usually gravitate towards fluffy Christmas reads but kudos to Jenny Bayliss because this one has fully surpassed by expectations. It’s so much more than just a predictable festive tale, which I’m all here for if there’s a good story there to go with it. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is like a modern day Lady Chatterley’s lover, with all the ingredients of a 5-star contemporary read: friends to lovers, interesting friendship dynamics, interesting couple dynamics, high school reunion vibes, the lot! I also loved that Elinor (Nory) owns a bookshop – books about books > books about everything else. In fact, if I owned a secondhand bookshop like Serendipitous Seconds, I too would find it hard to part with my fave precious first editions, just like Nory. MMUTM is a great cosy winter read for this time of year that balances humour with heavy topics such as grief, adultery, classism, racism to name a few, and although not quite as all-out festive as some readers might expect given the title, the snowy castle setting and chef’s kiss cast of characters more than makes up for it. You’ll see!

Rating: 4/5
Would you recommend it? 100% this is the easy breezy December read everyone deserves.

Lily’s Review

Firstly things first, I did not expect this storyline! I was expecting a light, fluffy, cheesy love story. However, it’s so much more than that. Jenny Bayliss writes a beautiful festive story. Expressing how, even during Christmas time, life isn’t a neat little line. It can go up and down in different ways, can shift, and get cut short.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe takes place around the festive season, but mainly talks about a friendship group dynamic, and how life keeps going even after the loss of someone close. I love these types of storylines, especially during Christmas time. Because it’s a soft reminder that it’s not always an easy, fun, happy time for all. But don’t get me wrong, there is still a warmness to this book that provides that cosy festive coating to make it a hearty breezy read!

A humbling, witty, sad, festive story. Where each chapter was a gift that kept on giving!! I highly recommend it to those out there that loved the Christmas film ‘Last Christmas’ or ‘PS. I Love You’.

Rating: 4/5
Would you recommend it? YES! Such a lovely book, the perfect December read.

Danielle’s Review

This book isn’t Jenny’s first foray into Christmas literature and by god, I hope it’s not her last! This book encapsulated the cosiest Christmas settings like the castle and London, but my favourite has to be Nory’s second-hand book shop. I loved the concept of matchmaking books to customers and I especially enjoyed this aspect as our last Zoella Book Club pick of the year! It really is a joy to pick books we think our audience will enjoy and I hope you’ve been fulfilled and inspired tucking into the ZBC reads in 2022.

This book just captures Christmas perfectly, personally, I’m super close to my family but I know SO many who are not and the way Nori surrounded herself with found family was beautiful. If you love Nancy Meyer’s or Nora Ephron’s movies like You’ve Got Mail then you’ll love this book, completely classic and wonderfully described. I’d recommend to anyone looking for a festive read.

Rating: 5/5
Would you recommend it? I’ve already lent it to my mum!