Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Lynn Marie Hulsman.
HarperImpulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman’s varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martins’ chest, irritated Jeremy Irons’s agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point). As a performer she’s been seen onstage at Caroline’s, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin’ Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can’t tell you what she’s ghost written (obv!) but she’s co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook. She does not believe in white chocolate.
Christmas memories to me are the very opposite of calm and peaceful. Our household’s holiday seasons were not strings of relaxed evenings sipping cocoa in front of the fire, or singing Silent Night as we gathered ‘round the tree to string popcorn. I’m the youngest child of five, and on top of that, the only girl. Our basic horde was comprised of seven people, and usually a dog. Add the grandparents, and all the relatives from my surprisingly long-lived family, plus assorted friends, and our yuletides were a mixture of chaos and din.
With that volume of traffic in and out of our house, it was virtually impossible to be prepared. In a fighting effort, my practical and frugal mother resourcefully kept a stash of “extra” presents for the times of us kids reported on the last day before school holidays that we had a previously undiscussed student teacher or when our family got the last-minute “B-list” call for a neighborhood open house, and a hostess gift was required. These presents were wrapped, and stashed to the side of the piles under the tree in their own area. Still, with the sheer number of wrapped packages, tags fell off and taped-up gifts sometimes went unidentified.
When we were very young, that mountain of gifts was torn into all revelations were made in just this side of fifteen minutes. Later, in an effort at teaching “gratitude” and “appreciation,” our custom morphed into a one-at-a-time, around-the-circle unveiling of our cans of salted mixed nuts, our battery-operated calculators, and our Calvin Klein jeans. If this sounds like fun, I’ve mislead you. The arduous event stretched out over the space of the better part of an afternoon, going deep into the evening. Each offering had to be held aloft and clapped for. Bathroom breaks were needed. Celebrants required hydration. In an attempt to keep blood sugar levels up, people poked into their stockings, nibbling their way through mounds of Hershey’s kisses, Andes mints, and when there was nothing else left, candy canes off the tree.
Near the end of one such marathon, when he’d surely thought we’d have retired to the dinner table given the start time reported by my brother, Tod’s friend Phillip showed up. At the time, they were teenagers, and no doubt itching to get the car keys and bolt from the house. Not wanting Phillip to feel outside the circle, my mother quickly scrambled to re-label some of the emergency gifts, and to grab some belonging to my brothers, opting for the smaller ones to avoid giving away something expensive like the electronic game Simon, or a newly popularized pair of Nike sneakers.
A chair was pulled up, and Phillip was given a pile of gifts, and the grim duty of taking his turn opening each, and holding it up to be applauded. As if this test of stamina during a marathon of present-opening weren’t bad enough, Phillip was given the a present no self-conscious teen wanted to open, much less lord over a waiting circle of people belonging to another family: A three-pack of Hanes tighty-whiteys. From what I remember, he blanched and mumbled, confused by our strange culture. He was a stranger in a strange land, and at that moment, I imagine he was wishing for home. After a beat, someone yelled out, “Underwear!” and we applauded as we would have for a Whitmans’ Sampler or a pair of Dearfoam slippers.
To this day, we’re not really sure why my mother wrapped up a package of underwear from Target in the first place. If I could ask her, I would. But I do know that every year since, SOMEONE has gotten a multi-pack of unmentionables.
Coming from a large family myself with numerous cousins and neighbor kids in and out all the time, my mother always had the stash of presents for those moments when one of her children (not me of course *cough, cough*), would need a last minute gift for a birthday party, teacher gift or unexpected Christmas gift. Thanks Lynn for coming and sharing with us.
Lynn has a Christmas novel that came out this month from HarperImpulse Christmas at Thornton Hall. Check it out!
Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don’t miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!
When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!
CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.