by Cecelia Ahern
This novel is Cecelia Ahern's attempt to do to Christmas what she has done to romance with such slop-busters as PS I Love You, A Place Called Here and Thanks for the Memories. Whether The Gift will rival Dickens' A Christmas Carol seems unlikely - in part because not even Dickens can do that, but also because The Gift is disappointing. Our hero is Lou, who actually exists as a story within a story - a soupy parable about Christmas told by a police officer to a recalcitrant child. Lou is the sort of thoroughly modern hero that populates so much chick-lit, trying vainly to balance his work life with his personal life, in the main I suspect because he spends so much time fiddling with his BlackBerry. One day he meets a homeless man called - wait for it - Gabriel. Lou offers him a job, then finds himself annoyed at how effortlessly organised and omnipresent Gabriel appears to be. Over the next few days, the moral of Ahern's parable smacks with all the subtlety of an orang-utan wearing a suit of armour. The message? Like, slow down and free yourself from all those modern chains that, like, drag you down and discover your hidden humanity. Bah and handbag.