Fiction Preview: Our Christmas Special

fiction preview

A very warm welcome to our fiction preview for  “The People’s Friend” Christmas Special, Special number 200.

“A Mouse In The Manor”

Our opening story is by H. Johnson-Mack. Shy Maerwynn isn’t looking forward to spending Christmas at Monceaux Manor; a certain atmosphere, and her cousin’s flirtatious behaviour are doing naught to change her mind.

“A Mouse In The Manor” is set in the 13th Century. Ruth Blair provided the atmospheric illustration (below).

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Illustration by Ruth Blair.

“Sowing The Seeds”

It’s a heart-warming family story, next — “Sowing The Seeds”, by Patsy Collins.

Anne hopes that the gift she has chosen for her newest grandchild will be just right . . . with an illustration from the Shutterstock picture library (below).

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“Grin And Bear It”

Fran works for an entertainment agency and Christmas is always their busiest time of year — oh yes it is!

Her boss is so demanding — but could there there more to her than meets the eye? Find out in Carrie Hewlett’s “Grin And Bear It”, illustrated by Sailesh Thakrar (below).

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Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

“The Wishing Star”

A family reunites in our next story. The poignant “The Wishing Star” is by debut author Miriam Lamont.

Even in the toughest of times, Nora believes in the power of the festive season. Set in the 1950s, this powerful family story has a stunning illustration by Mandy Dixon (below).

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Illustration by Mandy Dixon.

“Midwinter Magic”

Can Santa make it through the wildest of weather, to Maggie’s island?

Find out in the magical “Midwinter Magic” by debut author, Margaret Walker.

With a very sweet accompanying illustration by Manon Gandiolle (below).

Illustration by Manon Gandiolle.

“Quite Contrary”

“Quite Contrary” is next.

It’s casting time for the school’s Christmas production, and all the girls want to wear the blue dress — they all want to play Mary! Tabitha has another idea . . . find out what happens in this lovely short story by Eirin Thompson. Illustration from Shutterstock (below).

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“Letters To Santa”

Wishes are granted in our next story, “Letters To Santa” by Patricia Belford. Rose has lost her job, and her flat is under repair. Things start looking up when she suggests a letters-to-Santa idea at the Christmas Fair Committee – after all, does Santa do email? With an illustration by iStock (main pic).

“Like Any Other Day”

Gwen’s grown-up children will be spending Christmas away from home. Will Christmas end up being just “Like Any Other Day”? Find out in Moira Gee’s family story, illustrated by Ruth Blair.

“All I Want For Christmas”

“All I Want For Christmas” is our next story.

Will Martha’s first stall at the Christmas Market be a success? Laura Tapper’s gentle short story is festively illustrated (below) by Mandy Dixon.

Illustration by Mandy Dixon.

“Your Goose Is Cooked”

Kayleigh and Reece are planning their first Christmas together, when they realise their plans are completely different! Find out if it’s turkey or goose for Christmas dinner in Eirin Thompson’s “Your Goose Is Cooked”. With a light-hearted illustration from Shutterstock (below).


“The Show Must Go On”

Getting five-year-olds ready for the Nativity Play is easier said than done for new teacher Annie in Ellie Edwards’ 1960s story, “The Show Must Go On!”.

With a lovely Christmassy illustration from Shutterstock (below).


“Meet The Family”

Sparks fly when a widowed mum chooses Christmas to introduce the new man in her life to her grown-up children. “Meet The Family” is by Selina Hepworth. Mandy Murray illustrates.

“O, Tannenbaum”

We travel to the USA for Alison Carter’s “O, Tannenbaum”. Choosing a Christmas tree is a big deal for a family proud of its German heritage, but this year, things are most definitely not going to plan. With a wonderfully wintry illustration by Philip Crabb (below).

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Illustration by Philip Crabb.

“Carols In The Churchyard”

We’re off to Australia for our final short story, Liz Filleul’s “Carols In The Churchyard”. Ellie’s family has always attended the carol service. But with her son now living in the UK, she’s suddenly left wondering — where have all the years gone?

Gerard Fay provided the warm illustration for this family story.

If this fiction preview has left you wanting more, don’t worry! Our new Special is in shops soon.

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Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!