Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Book Review - Winter Solstice; Rosamunde Pilcher

 

Winter Solstice; Rosamunde Pilcher
St. Martins - (2015 edition)

Why did I wait 20 years to read this wonderful, comforting, gem of a book?  This will definitely be one of those books that will come out each December, if not to reread cover to cover, at least to look back at certain passages and quotes.

Winter Solstice follows the lives of (5) individuals who seem to have very little in common except for the fact that each is dealing with some recent turmoil in their lives.  There is Elfrida Phipps, a 62 year old who has suffered a loss and is leaving London to start a new life in a small country village. Oscar Blundell, his wife Gloria and young daughter Francesca are first to befriend Elfrida in the new village but, when something tragic happens the story moves to an old stately manor in Creagan.  Sam Howard, after a separation from his wife in NYC, leaves New York for Scotland for an executive position there.  Thirty-something Carrie and her 14 year old niece are both in need of a change of scenery for the holidays after dealing with their own issues.  None of these individuals has any idea that this December will begin to change their lives but, when their paths do cross a transformation and inner peace begins to take place.

There is everything to love about this story - people who care about other people (and don't we need more of this?) wonderfully detailed descriptions that were easy to visualize: the winter shore, newly fallen snow, roaring fires, good food and conversation, specialty shops and much much more.  There is a bit of sadness in the story yet, more often than not this was a comforting story that ends on a positive note.  I loved how easily I was drawn into the lives of these good people.  Sit back with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate and savor this book. It's not a story to rush through (500+ pp), best read and savored.

I originally started the audiobook in December but, I wasn't enjoying the narrator so I purchased the trade print edition and was very happy I did.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Here are some of the quotes that seemed worth mentioning.
  • “You never really got to know people properly until you had seen them within the ambiance of their own home. Seen their furniture and their books and the manner of their lifestyle.”
  • “She had been impulsive all her life, made decisions without thought for the future, and regretted none of them, however dotty. Looking back, all she regretted were the opportunities missed, either because they had come along at the wrong time or because she had been too timid to grasp them.”
  • “The windows of the church were tall, arched in gothic style. But from the outside, the colours and patterns of the stained-glass were dimmed. He knew that to appreciate their jewel-like beauty one had to view them from within, the light of day streaming through the colours and throwing lozenges of ruby and sapphire and emerald onto worn flagstones.

  • "Perhaps this was symbolic. Perhaps, isolated from the church, there were other delights, pleasures, comforts, that, because of his present state of mind, he deliberately denied himself.”
  • “As for God, I frankly admit that I find it easier to live with the age old questions about suffering than with many of the easy or pious explanations offered from time to time. Some of which seem to verge on blasphemy.”
  • “To cheer herself up, Elfrida looked ahead, in positive fashion, which she had always found a reliable method of dealing with a sense of loss.”
  • “Life is sweet. . . Beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet. The basics are still there. Beauty, food and friendship, reservoirs of love and understanding. Later, possibly not yet, you are going to need others who will encourage you to make new beginnings. Welcome them. They will help you move on, to cherish happy memories and confront the painful ones with more than bitterness and anger.”

33 comments:

  1. What an excellent review, Diane. I am so reading this sometime this year. Sooner rather than later I think...

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    1. Thank you Cath, it was such a lovely experience. I hope you will enjoy it just as much.

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  2. I think that sounds like a really good must read.

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  3. Ok, with a review like that I have to look for the book!

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    1. You would love it Vicki - I'm almost positive. Clean, wholesome and comforting.

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  4. Sounds wonderful. I like the part about knowing someone by their home.

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  5. An author I've enjoyed reading. The quote about missed opportunities is so very true. Maybe hackneyed but true.

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  6. I've heard and read quite a lot about this book but somehow never read it. So, I guess you are unreservedly recommending it, no? High praise, indeed!

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  7. I finished composing my review this morning! Sadly, I didn't include any passages and am so happy to see all that you chose to share. I especially like the first quote. Thank you so much for nudging me to reread this gem. I'm planning to reread The Shell Seekers sometime in the summer. I also have Coming Home on my tbr shelf. 2022 may be my year of Rosamunde Pilcher!

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    1. Les, I plan to read Shell Seekers as well. It will be fun to compare thoughts.

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  8. I'm so glad you ended up enjoying this as I know you were struggling with the audio! I read this years and years ago and have been meaning to reread it but never quite manage it. I'm reading one of her very early books and while it is not nearly as developed and hasn't aged particularly well Pilcher does seem to have a special kind of magic in her writing.

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    1. Katherine, I think I avoided this author in the past as somehow I thought she wrote romance type novels. This wasn't the case. I shall also earmark Shell Seekers now for 2022.

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  9. This sounds like a book that is perfect for my time of life. Thoughtful. Consoling. Wise.

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    1. Exactly Deb - it's a book many could benefit from right about now.

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  10. Like Katherine, this is a book that I read a long time ago and have never revisited. Several of my book friends, both on the blogs and here in my new home town, have recently read or reread this book. I think I'll make it a priority later in the year, perhaps in the fall, and visit this story once again. This author's books that I've read always seem to be favorites that I look back at with fondness. I haven't made a priority to reread them, but maybe...

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    1. Kay, I am not one to reread books but, this one felt special and worth revisiting each December perhaps.

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  11. I just put this on hold at my library!

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  12. I reread The Shell Seekers in 2020 and it was every bit as wonderful as my first reading decades ago. Started Winter Solstice on audio and listened to less than an hour, it didn't grab me and I really didn't have time for it either. Will hopefully get to it in print soon... so glad you loved it!

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    1. JoAnn, I was not enjoying the audio either but, I so happy I purchased the print...it makes a huge difference IMO. I also purchased Shell Seekers as I never read it - looking forward to it as a warmer weather treat.

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  13. This sounds wonderful, Diane. I am adding it to my wish list.

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    1. Such a comfort read without feeling like a contrived story.

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  14. I love this book! And your review makes me want to pull it out and reread it. :)

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  15. I read this in December too, and absolutely loved it. Now I am on a Rosamunde Pilcher spree!

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  16. What a lovely sounding book! If you are thinking of reading it every December it must be worth a read.

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    1. Pure comfort kind of read Helen - especially the faster pace of December, this is the perfect book to sit back and unwind with.

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  17. I have not read a Pilcher book yet -- ashamed to say ... though The Shell Seekers was such a huge blockbuster. I like the quotes you note here, so I want to read one of hers for sure. I was sad to hear of the author's passing in 2019, ugh.

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