82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2000
Once again Ms. Pilcher weaves a magical tale of ordinary folks. Good humored and caring, she introduces us to five people from very different walks of life, creating a family-type unit to nurture and love each other. Oscar, Elfrida, Lucy, Sam & Carrie are handling issues of loss, tradegy, family breakdown, divorce, re-marriage, aging, financial woes and abandonment when they find themselves sharing The Estate House in a small village in Scotland at the holiday season. Pilcher's characters exhibit the richness and depth and character we've come to expect. The settings are lovingly set out, from the cozy village of Diblo to the wind blown Cornwall coast, to the lochs and mountains of Scotland. An adventure to crawl into, to dwell, to breathe, to cry and to hope. You will want to just reach into the book and hug these characters, they are so dear and so believable.
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2000
Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. A brief time, when darkness predominates. Yet in this brief time, Rosamund Pilcher has set a story filled with light and warmth.
The book is classic Pilcher, full of detail and texture, housed in quirky old buildings and peopled with obliging neighbors, wet dogs, unexpected guests and a cast of characters we can grow to love.
This is not a book to be rushed through. Don't read it in bits and pieces, wedged into stolen moments during lunch breaks or while waiting for your 11-year-old to finish soccer practice. Savor it. Sit in a comfy chair with a good reading light, have a nice restoring cup of tea and some biscuits at hand. (Okay, so here in the States we don't really have those kinds of biscuits - a good butter cookie will do.) Pace be damned. In fact, that's the whole thrust of the book - that these people are thrown together in a place and time that's out of their everyday world. They're forced to slow down, to wait, to exist in the here and now. And, by consequence, the few days they spend together make all the difference in their lives.
There is more than a story here. It's not just a collection of lovely descriptions, unique characters, and a touch of romance. There are so many things to enjoy - Elfrida, the aging actress who's not too old to fall in love, the unspoiled 14-year-old Lucy, gentle Oscar with whom you just begin to get a bit irritated until he finally takes action. That's the thing - there's a philosophy here, about living. About what makes every life and each day worthwhile. They will come on you unexpectedly, those moments in the book, and they are what makes this book, and others by Ms. Pilcher, the books you remember, and reread, and leave you wishing you could know what these characters, these people, will be doing the rest of their lives.
Winter Solstice, no matter what time of year you read it, is a true Christmas gift from Ms. Pilcher, to all her fans. And it is a treasure.
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2000
At last, another book from this wonderful author. Elfrida joins the other strong, yet vulnerable characters that Ms. Pilcher created in her other books. As entrancing as the story line is her description of surroundings (even the weather). You really see the settings, you taste the food and feel the textures on each page. Her well fleshed characters are people you wished you knew, they have plausible histories and they develop quite satisfactorily in very interesting directions. It is lovely to read a book where characters are not limited in exploring their interests, drives and emotions by their ages. Although the plot's conflicts are resolved with no major surprises, the reader closes the book with regrets and the wish that the story could continue and the characters could move in next door.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2000
After five long years waiting for the next Rosamunde Pilcher, Winter Solstice makes the wait worthwhile. The author has assembled a diverse group of sympathetic, wholly enchanting characters---just the kind we all want as our best friends. The aging but ageless Elfrida, the grief-stricken Oscar, the abandoned Lucy, the heartbroken Carrie, and the quintessential Renaissance man Sam are all brought together by circumstances to spend Christmas at an Estate House in Scotland.
Not only does Mrs. Pilcher give us memorable characters, but the description of the weather, the food, the preparations for Christmas, even the irrepressible mutt Horace make for one of the best reading experiences from this master story-teller.
This is truly a book that makes you sad to finish because you want it to go on forever and never leave these characters you have formed a bond with. I would rate it right up there with her masterpieces, The Shell Seekers and September.
64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2000
PLAIN & SIMPLE -- if you love Pilcher, you'll love this book. The Winter Solstice is considered to be the shortest day of the year. When reading a Pilcher book, it doesn't matter if the days are long or short because she will fill them with so much love and warmth that you'll be transported to the desired location in record time. While I'll admit that this book is not as good as Coming Home or The Shell Seekers, it has the same wonderful characters and wonderful descriptions that have become synonomous with Pilcher.
In this book, all roads lead to one destination -- in this case Corrydale, the Estate House in Northern Scotland. You'll have to read the book to find out how everyone ends up there, however. Pilcher introduces us to a bevy of characters -- 62 year old Elfrida Phipps, a retired actress who has just left London to seek quiet in a little cottage in Dibton in Hampshire; Gloria and Oscar Blundell, along with their daughter Francesca, who make Elfrida feel more than welcome in her new town; Carrie, who has just left Austria and a broken romance to begin anew; Carrie's niece Lucy who, as a teenager, stands in the way of her mother's new and exciting relatonship with her American boyfriend and, last but not least, Sam, originally from England, but has been working in America for the past few years. He has now been called back by his company to go to Scotland to bring a broken down textile mill back to life.
Somehow Pilcher manages to put all five of these characters together and the resulting effect will warm your heart. Through her descriptions, you'll feel like you're sitting in the house with them planning a Christmas holiday, while drinking tea the entire time. The more tea her characters drink, the more relaxed I become. I'm just sorry to hear that Pilcher has decided to retire but happy that I still have a few of her books that I've yet to read.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2000
Every so often a book evelopes me with warmth, understanding, and a focus that I didn't have the day before. Pilcher did that in Winter Solstice. PLEASE forgive the Frechtman review above where she finds it her right to share a bit too much of the story line, as well as skewing it in a negative light that is vastly opposing the deeper messages the book holds within its pages. The lead characters, Elfrida and Oscar, show us a climate of life that is "adaptable" to circumstances thrust upon them, HOWEVER difficult, yet finding simple and abundant joys in the wonderful things that flood their (and ALL of our) lives -- EVEN in what are seemingly our darkest and longest nights. Hence, the dreary winter solstice season, which all of us are on the heels of facing. What perfect timing to read this. It also sets the stage for the spirit of Christmas, family, giving, sharing...hope. The delectable British dialogue is certainly part of the charm of this novel, so find your coziest blanket, put on a kettle, and take your time with this, beautiful, inspriring, "happy-ending" story. Just when we think something might be too outrageous to believe, as Frechtman shared with you in her review, remember that we all come from different places in life. Conversely, Oscar shows us the dignity and hope of not mulling in grief for years and years as so many people do. There is still life on THIS side of death -- but that is really just a crumb of all that await you. Their compassions flying in every direction for others are well rewarded, and hopefully will give you much to think about for your own life. Have a kleenex ready for the ending, and prepare to miss these people.
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2000
I've read everyone else's reviews, and now it's my turn to weigh in! True, this is not Ms. Pilcher's finest work: for that, see either "September" or "Shell Seekers". Still, there are some things she does well. I liked the premise of unhappy people coming together at Christmas, and thinking they'll just try to get through the "happy season", then finding real happiness. The character of Lucy seemed very real to me when thinking of some of the lonely, indeed nearly abandoned teens I see today. Finally, no one, absolutely no one, can describe a house like Rosamunde Pilcher can. I don't know that that matters greatly in a writer, but even though I'm not in the least domestic myself, I find her descriptions of gardens and house to be terribly soothing (perhaps the insomnia reviewer was right in that regard, we just had different reactions to it!). Yes, the ending of the story is predictable, but you don't buy a Rosamunde Pilcher novel for shock endings and radical surprises. Generally speaking, they're literary comfort food, and we could all use a little comfort.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I have to warn you. It starts out a little slowly, and maybe the main character doesn't appeal to you. But if you read past the first few paragraphs, the story draws you into the beauty of Scotland in winter. It is a lovely book with a predictable ending, but you don't care. It's pure escapism and so enjoyable to read. I recommend it to anyone who needs something to read on a rainy or snowy day. It takes you away for a few hours into a different world and you come back cheered.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2000
I don't understand the criticism of this book. No, it's not quickie fiction. Pilcher takes her own sweet time to develop all the story lines and characters but, for me, the wait is worth it.
By the time the book was over, I felt as if I knew the soul of each holiday visitor at Estate House.
Pilcher's true gift is in the details and in her ability to draw readers into each story and to make us comfortable enough to linger.
I'll be reading WINTER SOLSTICE again...and again....and again...
What about a sequel? Oscar and Elfrida as they re-do their cottage....Lucy and Rory as they explore young love...Carrie and Sam as they build a life together??? Endless possibilities.
48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2000
I just finished reading Winter Solstice, and I liked it very much. But it's not in the same league as Rosamunde Pilcher's major books (The Shell Seekers, September, and Coming Home). For one thing, it's a lot shorter than any of those books and therefore lacks their complexity. It also loses something because it is set entirely in the present day, unlike Shell Seekers and Coming Home, which offered a fascinating peek into the lives of the British during the Second World War. Nevertheless, the characters in Winter Solstice are interesting and appealing, and Pilcher's Scotland is fascinating. (My American mind still has trouble accepting the idea that some people live without central heating.) One word of warning: much of the story revolves around a bereaved parent's coming to terms with the tragic accidental death of an adolescent child. This shocking death occurs -- without warning -- during the early chapters of the book. Young readers (or adults who have children of similar age) may find this death extremely upsetting.