The Bureau of Holiday Affairs

The Bureau of Holiday Affairs - Andi Marquette This is a perfect holiday read--a lovely adaptation of a Christmas classic and a feel-good read guaranteed to whip up some warm and fuzzy holiday vibes.

But beyond that, it also has lasting appeal as a character study and an interesting look at what causes a perfectly decent person to change so drastically for the worse. What fork in our lives (a single tragic event? a heartbreak? a combination of factors?) triggers that downward spiral? And what will it take to change someone? someone who's spent so much time on the dark side it their new normal. Will it even be possible to change them?

The lead character, Robin, is caught up in the ruthless corporate rat-race to the top. Along the way, she's picked up quite a few dirty tricks and some unsavory traits that have earned her a well-deserved 'asshole' reputation. Robin earns an 'intervention' from a shadowy paranormal agency that visits their targets before Christmastime and shows them the error of their ways and how their actions affect other people. (Of course, nothing smacks them harder than a visit to the future to show them dying completely alone ;)

It's interesting how commonplace this is in real life. We are all occasional scrooges at one time or another, and how many people aren't caught up in the rat race? Unfortunately, we won't be having sexy, stylish interventionists showing us the error of our ways, or giving us a golden parachute to help cushion us for the drop. And that is why I'm not giving the book 5 stars. At some points, things felt repetitive and the pacing was a little slow. I also thought the Bureau (ergo the author) was a little heavy handed in its handling of the entire affair. Such hopelessly romantic cupids, the 'bureaucrats' are, LOL. Robin didn't have to make any hard choices. Her path was paved with gold by the 'bureaucrats', from gentle nudging, to removing obstacles, to literally lining up Robin's pocket(!) Also, their constant reappearances, nudges and whispers in Robin's ear felt like skirting the thin line between 'free will' and coercion, however gentle they were. I thought Jill's own journey was way more compelling. Her choices would have been fraught with uncertainty (jumping from stable job to struggling artist...with a kid in tow) and animosity (no familial support)...and she was completely alone (no gf waiting in the wings). Now that was bravery. But the story is all about Robin. I did immensely enjoy their second go-around romance--a much more mature Jill who knows exactly what she wants, plus a newly-maturing Robin trying her darnedest not to mess things up--its beautiful.

4.4 stars

ARC provided by Netgalley