Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (2000)
First Lines: "Before Elfrida Phipps left London for good and moved to the country, she made a trip to the Battersea Dogs' Home, and returned with a canine companion. It took a good -- and heart-rending -- half-hour of searching, but as soon as she saw him, sitting very close to the bars of his kennel and gazing up at her with dark and melting eyes, she knew that he was the one."
Summary: Elfrida Phipps, a retired actress, has left London and moved into a cottage in the village of Dibton, Hampshire. At first she is rather lonely, but Gloria Blundell welcomes her into her family and invites her for dinner regularly. Elfrida begins to enjoy the rhythm of her life and her little cottage. When tragedy strikes, Oscar Blundell asks for Elfrida's companionship as he must decide on a new course for his life. She accompanies him to a home that he is part owner of in Scotland. They have decided there will be no Christmas this year as it would be too painful. Over the course of the next few weeks, the house becomes a home to three other people who have recently suffered personal tragedy.
My thoughts: Years ago I read The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher and loved it. I may have read another of her books, but somehow never got to reading anything more by her. Recently I saw Winter Solstice recommended and thought I really must pick it up. I am so glad I did.
Ms. Pilcher writes in a way that draws you into the story. Each of the characters are imperfect people who have made their share of mistakes. Each has been through personal tragedy. The story illustrates the power of love and kindness in healing hearts. Elfrida is a free-spirit, but she also knows the power of having a place to call home. She is loving and kind, even if her homemaking skills are a little lacking. She loves people and is quick to welcome someone into her home.
Home and family are major themes in the story. The idea that a house is special because of the home and family life that was created there is important. Also, the lack of home and family life is deeply felt and longed for in those who don't have it.
"He found himself remembering Radley Hill, because the atmosphere of this ordinary London house, where Neil and Janey were raising their children, brought back secure and comforting memories of the place where Sam had spent his boyhood. Always the welcome, the lighted fire, the scent from the kitchen of delicious and robust food. Boots on the porch, tennis rackets littering the hall, the voices of youngsters who were his friends, the sound of their footsteps clattering down the stairs. He wondered if he would ever achieve such a haven of family life."
While this is not Christian fiction, there is a beautiful faith thread woven through the story. It ends with each character's story coming to a satisfying place. I enjoyed reading this so much and look forward to reading more Rosamunde Pilcher.
"Lucy had kept up the diary since the day she had received it. It wasn't so much a diary as a notebook, because there were no dates, just lovely clean pages, which meant that you wrote the date yourself, and then the day's doings underneath. Sometimes, there was little to record, but other days, if she had been to the cinema or to a concert with the rest of her class, there was quite a lot to remember, and she could use up two or three pages."
"In a way, Elfrida found this lack of decoration and clutter quite therapeutic. Without pictures, knick-knacks, small bits of silver, and sets of decorative porcelain to divert the eye, it was possible to appreciate the lovely proportions of the room, the ornate cornice and the plaster rose in the centre of the ceiling, from which depended a charming Victorian chandelier."
"I'm fourteen now, and sometimes I feel I've done nothing except go to school. It wouldn't be so bad if I had a brother or a sister. 'Specially a brother. Because just being with women all the time can be dreadfully lowering. They talk about such unimportant things. Like clothes, or restaurants, or other people..."