#12 Books of Christmas - Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Welcome to Day 11 of #12 Books of Christmas
Missed any? I've listed them for you below.
Day 1 - Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Day 2 - The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Day 3 - The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
Day 4 - Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
Day 5 - The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater
Day 6 - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Day 7 - A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan
Day 8 - Village Christmas by Miss Read
Day 9 - The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Day 10 - A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
I have a collection of precisely 4 Rosamunde Pilcher novels. I am aware that she has written plenty more and that her short stories are thoughtful and second to none, but I love seeing the sight of 4 huge tomes on my bookshelves. These books encompass the changing year and are usually read at least every other year. For spring, I start with Coming Home, in Summer I find myself in Cornwall reading The Shell Seekers, September finds me at a very glamorous house party in Scotland and in Winter I turn to the comfort of Winter Solstice. Winter Solstice is a true moment of Christmas calm and this year, in particular, I am finding I need it.
Set mainly at Christmas, the story centres around good friends Elfrida, a 'battered old actress' and quiet organist Oscar. When Oscar's wife and daughter are tragically killed in a car accident, Oscar decides to return to his family home in Scotland and asks Elfrida to go with him. Because of his grief, he wants to be somewhere quiet with no Christmas celebrations. Out of the blue Elfrida receives a call from her niece Carrie, back from working in Austria and nursing a broken heart, who needs somewhere for her and her niece, Lucy to go for Christmas.
Whilst there, Sam arrives, a stranger who owing to a mix- up with Oscars cousin has also come to stay at the house. Newly separated and back from working in New York, Sam has been put in charge the renovation of a local mill destroyed by flood. In the lead up to Christmas, this group come to terms with their sorrow and come to appreciate each other and the importance of love and friendship.
This novel is one of my all time favourites and sits very nicely in my Top 10. I adore the writing of Rosamunde Pilcher. It is quiet, precise, packed full of delicate detail and emphasises the pleasure in small things. For example at a time when people would usually be thinking of mass catering, hearty breakfasts, and an endless to do list, Rosamunde Pilcher talks about coffee and bacon and a relaxed chat about the day ahead, assigning a couple of jobs which are then savoured and enjoyed. Before returning home for a good meal and a glass of whisky by the log fire. Inwardly I find myself slowing down, taking the time to not pack my day out and enjoy each small thing.
My favourite character is Elfrida, I think she is wonderful. She has 'tweaked' orange hair, a largesse of life and generosity of spirit. I always think I would like to go to a party and meet Elfrida and she could regale me with tales of her acting days. She seems like someone you can have a jolly good belly laugh with. It is her kindness that brings the group of strangers together, encouraging them in wherever they feel they need to go and generally being great fun whilst doing it. Horace her dog, is also wonderful, and many adventures are had whilst taking him for walks on the beautiful sand dunes.
Oscar is an absolute sweetie, bent double with sorrow, he still exudes kindness and is particularly thoughtful to Lucy. We learn about his struggle with faith in the face of the terrible car accident.
The scenery and town where the group stay are just wonderful. It snows a lot and moments are taken to watch the gold lit snowflakes tumble to the ground. There are good neighbours who quickly become frequent house visitors, sharing a mince pie, cup of tea and a good gossip. A party is had to celebrate this friendship and it is done in the non-stressed, casual way of simple yet delicious food and lots of drink!
Each chapter focuses on an individual character and is told in the 3rd person, but dotted throughout we have excerpts from Lucy's diary, written obviously in the 1st person, but which are a wonderful way of marking each event, usually told excitedly by Lucy. This technique is never jarring and the story flows beautifully throughout.
It has been wonderful to re-read this again and I know next year I will probably read it again. It is evergreen for me, a wonderful message of friendship and hope set with a likeable group of people in a beautiful location. I am very fond of this book.
I can't believe that tomorrow's post will be my last #12 Books of Christmas post. I do hope you are enjoying my recommendation. I'll see you tomorrow!