I’m calling it: Three Holidays and a Wedding is my favourite holiday read of 2023. Now, I haven’t read that many yet (and I’m woefully behind, as usual, on my holiday review books) but this one, co-written by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley, two of my favourite authors, was an absolute delight and I enjoyed every second reading it.
Here’s the book’s description:
Three times the holiday magic. Three times the chaos.The premise of this one is perfectly bonkers which made it the best kind of holiday rom com. There are not one, not two, but three major holidays converging, a plane being rerouted and, oh, there’s a movie being filmed in town, too! Jalaluddin and Stapley work their magic, though, and make something that could be cheesy and over-the-top, completely wonderful. I was smiling constantly while reading this story and was completely invested in the characters’ lives.
As strangers and seatmates Maryam Aziz and Anna Gibson fly to Toronto over the holidays—Maryam to her sister’s impromptu wedding, and Anna to meet her boyfriend’s wealthy family for the first time—neither expect that severe turbulence will scare them into confessing their deepest hopes and fears to one another. At least they’ll never see each other again. And the love of Maryam’s life, Saif, wasn’t sitting two rows behind them hearing it all. Oops.
An emergency landing finds Anna, Saif, Maryam, and her sister’s entire bridal party snowbound at the quirky Snow Falls Inn in a picture-perfect town, where fate has Anna’s actor-crush filming a holiday romance. As Maryam finds the courage to open her heart to Saif, and Anna feels the magic of being snowbound with an unexpected new love—both women soon realize there’s no place they’d rather be for the holidays.
The book takes place in December 2000 when Ramadan, Hanukkah, and Christmas all fell within a few days of each other. You may think that 2000 wasn’t that long ago and I mostly forgot that the book took place *gasp* 23 years ago. But there were the odd moments when I realized how much things had changed since then - which I loved! Anna only had a flip phone and her charger had been lost with her luggage so she couldn’t get in touch with her boyfriend in Toronto. That would never happen these days. Nor would someone pull out a bunch of CDs for a mehndi ceremony in 2023. I really liked the little mentions of days gone by!
I loved how the holidays came together and how Hanukkah and Ramadan took centre stage, with Christmas almost being an afterthought. It was refreshing. I celebrate Christmas but there’s no religious reason for that. I just enjoyed that a big guy in a red suit brought me and my sisters presents and we had an excuse to decorate the house and eat lots of treats. I enjoyed feeling part of both Anna and Maryam’s celebrations as they shared traditions and discovered just how important family and their holidays really were to them. (And that maybe family didn’t have to be related by blood.)
Maryam and Anna were such great characters to get to know. They were real (and therefore flawed) but such wonderful people. And their love interests probably didn’t deserve them because these ladies were so great. (But the boys were ok too - we can keep them!) The romantic relationships they embark on were secondary to the women figuring out what they wanted to be doing with their lives. Becoming snowbound in Snow Falls allowed them to really analyze their current circumstances and think about their futures. I was so proud of their growth and loved reading it.
If you buy just one holiday read this year, make it Three Holidays and a Wedding (and I highly recommend you buy yourself your very own copy). Uzma Jalauddin and Marissa Stapley have completely nailed it and I loved reading this holiday rom com. I hope these authors pair up again for another novel in the future.
*An egalley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*