Title: Every Time A Bell Rings
Author: Carmel Harrington
Format reviewed: Ebook
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 15th October 2015
Rating: 5 Stars
An angel gets its wings…
Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.
As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.
Hence, Christmas is cancelled.
So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.
But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…
Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?
Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.
I was mildly apprehensive going into this book purely because I knew it was inspired by It's A Wonderful Life, which is one of the classic Christmas movies I have never seen. I need not have worried as clearly you need absolutely no knowledge of the film to enjoy this book, and it's also dawned on me that I have seen a different film that is also based in parts on key scenes from It's A Wonderful Life.
This is such a beautifully written book, and such a fabulous story that will tug at every emotion you have, and will also hopefully make you feel that your own life has worth and meaning too.
Every Time A Bell Rings I believe can be read and enjoyed at all times of the year. Yes it has an emphasis on December and Christmas, but it will get under your skin, and be a book to read whenever and wherever.
It has been split into 3 main parts, which by the end of the first part I was already in tears, and then had to take a short break from the book to compose myself properly to be able to continue reading. The prologue is a lovely way to open the book, and although it felt a bit longer than your average prologue, it really did give you a feel for some of what was to come in the book. And then it lead into part one, which was Belle and Jim's childhood.
I found their childhood moving, fascinating, and also shows that childhood friendships can stand the test of time. For Belle and Jim are certainly soul mates, even if later in the book you do start to despair for the couple. All of the talk of fostering from Belle and Jim's childhood to the children they take in themselves are very interesting, and in the case of Lauren, I was as attached to her as Belle. I was about as heartbroken as Belle, when it was time for Lauren to leave. I loved the concept of forever homes and forever children, and honestly wish that if I am ever in the position to foster children that I could do it even half as well as Belle, Jim and Tess.
When you read Every Time A Bell Rings make sure if at all possible you can read it in one day and not need to interrupt the reading. I made that mistake and had to go out second after the car crash (mentioned in blurb so can't fully be a spoiler!) and spent most of the evening wondering if Belle and Jim were ok. And do make sure you have some tissues handy generally while reading this.
I sometimes struggle with books where there are angels, but thankfully I had no such issue with this book. It felt such a natural progression of the story, and Nora the angel is utterly believable. Admittedly while Belle is making her key wish, hearing Kermit the Frog's voice from It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, saying the exact same lines was a bit off putting, but that is obviously not the books fault, just a parallel that occurred to me, at the most inopportune moment!
I have no idea how Carmel Harrington keeps coming up with these beautiful, life affirming books but I am so glad that she does. The characters are so well written I could see them, and I could believe this would work wonderfully as a film (yes I know it is inspired by one, but this would be a great film as well!)
Thank you so much to Harper Impulse and Netgalley for this review copy. This was my honest opinion.