Rosamunde Pilcher's novel, despite its chilly setting, will warm the hearts of her growing army of loyal fans. Winter Solstice
has all the familiar trademarks of a Pilcher saga, spun in her inimitable, homey, beguiling style. The story is told, chapter by chapter, from the perspectives of an eclectic array of characters. Former actress Elfrida--not very good by her own admission--leaves London for a geriatric bolthole in the country where she meets retired schoolmaster and organist, Oscar. Meanwhile, Carrie (Elfrida's second cousin), returns to London from Austria where she had a brilliant career in the tourist industry, only to find her niece, 14-year-old Lucy, sadly neglected by her selfish mother and equally spoiled grandmother. Finally, handsome Sam is recalled from New York by his company chairman to revive an ailing Scottish textile mill.
As one character after another must learn to live with their losses, they find themselves collectively spirited northwards, from Sussex to Scotland, by way of Cornwall. And, as events unfurl, slowly, surely, but inevitably, those in need find solace in unexpected places. While her characterizations are generally carefully crafted and entirely rounded, Pilcher's greatest strengths lie in her natural, easy narratives of everyday life and her thoroughly researched and captivating descriptions of scenery and surroundings. --Carey Green
From Publishers Weekly
The author of The Shell Seekers has penned another romance sure to give fans the warm fuzzies, even though it's set in the north of Scotland in winter. Colorful Elfrida Phipps, 60-ish and single, has retired from a lifetime on the stage to a country retreat in Hampshire, England. There, she is befriended by Oscar and Gloria Blundell and their 12-year-old daughter, Francesca. Oscar, an organist, is somewhat older than his wife and the Blundells live in Gloria's family house. When Gloria and Francesca die in an automobile accident, Gloria's sons from a previous marriage inform Oscar that they are selling the property and he must leave. Elfrida persuades the grief-stricken, penniless Oscar to return to his childhood haunt, Corrydale, in Creagan, Scotland. His grandmother's grand estate is now a hotel, but the former estate manager's house is vacant and still belongs to the family. With few ties herself, Elfrida moves with Oscar to Creagan, where he plans to escape the upcoming Christmas festivities and the sad memories they will arouse. A distant relative of Elfrida's is also looking for a quiet place to spend the holidays. Beautiful, stylish 30-year-old Carrie Sutton is escaping a painful love affair. She has rescued her 14-year-old niece, Lucy, from Lucy's neglectful mother and grandmother, and the two seek asylum with Elfrida and Oscar. When handsome, successful, separated Sam Howard knocks on their homey door in a snowstorm, there is nothing to be done but invite him to stay, and the five souls from three generations find Christmas isn't so sad, after all. As her devoted readers have learned to expect, Pilcher's fond descriptions of domestic detail and her atmospheric evocation of the Scottish landscape add substance to a predictable but heartwarming plot. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate; Reader's Digest Select Edition; audio rights to Random House. (Aug.)
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