Book Review: Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings…”

Published in 2015, Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington follows married couple Belle and Jim as we meet them over three different time periods – when they first meet as children in foster care, the day that Jim proposes, and in the aftermath of the now-married couple crashing their car on an icy December night. Now foster parents themselves, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life, but a confrontation starts when Jim pleads for the couple to start a family of their own. With her husband now in hospital, 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 realize that her life is the most wonderful life of all, before it’s too late?


Did I fit one more Christmas read in while I still could? You bet I did after this one came so highly recommended, knowing that my favourite Christmas film is It’s a Wonderful Life.

A warmly festive, delightfully magical, and heart-achingly emotional story, Every Time A Bell Rings is a hopeful read full of Christmas spirit, Irish charm and characters that are easy to fall in love with.

Admittedly, I didn’t read the premise of this book before going into it, and I think that’s the best way to do it because so much came as a lovely surprise. The book follows these two characters over many years so we get to know them very closely, as we experience many highs and lows with them and hope that they can build the life they have always dreamed of.

Although it’s mostly a light and heartwarming read, the book does discuss some more serious subjects such as child loss, child neglect and the foster care system, but this all adds strength to Belle and Jim’s characters who really feel like fully realised characters.

The inspiration of It’s a Wonderful Life only comes in near towards the end to add a slight fantastical element to the story, as Belle is given the opportunity to look back over her life. I love the homage that this book plays to an absolute classic. And in the same way that the film does, it ends the story in such a positively moving way that will ensure these characters stay with you.

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