A Viennese Christmas
I spent a summer and semester in Vienna in college,so when I saw A Viennese Christmas available on Netgalley, I pounced on it. I have happy memories of Austria and would love to see more romance set there. This novella didn’t exactly put me in the Christmas spirit, but perhaps someday I’ll find another.
Crain’s story revolves around two expats in Vienna over Christmas. Amanda Kranz works as a sign language interpreter for the UN and even though she’s been in Vienna for quite some time, she hasn’t really made friends or started to feel at home there. Heck, she hasn’t even bothered learning the most basic of German. I knew people like Amanda when I was in Vienna, and they annoyed me greatly as they passed up the delights of coffeeshops, bakeries and amazing fresh food to go chow down in McDonald’s.
Luckily for Amanda, Henry Jager is much more patient. Henry meets Amanda while she is out taking in the sights of the Christkindl markets, a traditional and very festive outdoor event that marks the season in Vienna. He steers her away from one of the more touristy markets and starts to take her on a journey through the city. And along the way, the two start to flirt, a walk in Vienna later becomes dinner and before they know it, the two are dating their way through the Christmas season.
In some ways, this could have been a sweet story. However, the writing just felt clumsy and each little misstep started to make me feel like I was walking on Legos. As mentioned above, the heroine doesn’t feel at home in Vienna, but I found myself lacking in sympathy after reading a bit because it seemed obvious that she hadn’t taken even small steps to try to adjust to living overseas. In addition, the dialogue between Amanda and Henry was just clunky and trite and since most of the story involves their conversations, that’s a pretty deadly flaw.
For most of the story, I found myself thinking that if someone I knew was telling me this story about how she and her partner got together, I’d be happy for her. However, the emotional interest would come from my attachment to my friend, not because of the wonder of the story. And that’s entirely the case here. I spent most of my reading time feeling like a spectator watching the romantic history of a couple I didn’t know or care all that much about. All of which would have made this a textbook C read, up until the end, when everything pretty much takes a dip toward the crazy.
Vienna is a beautiful, amazing city with a rich cultural history. It would make a fabulous setting for romance, but A Viennese Christmas isn’t really up to it. Read about Vienna by all means, but the magic just isn’t to be found in this novella.