Tag Archives: Rosamunde Pilcher

Return to Winter Solstice

Yes, as I said two weeks ago, Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice proved irresistible. It was gone in no time at all, but I reckon it was in a good cause. It made me feel better.

It was the same as almost twenty years ago. And it wasn’t. I saw things I didn’t notice then. I’m someone who has generally been able to ignore certain less pc aspects in a story, if the book is good.

The thing with Pilcher’s books was that they featured ‘better’ people. Not necessarily better off, but not you and me. Rather like most romances, where we don’t want to read about the most mundane and awful lives, because we have enough living them.

Oscar is lovely. He is also recently bereaved, which is the reason for the whole plot. He is polite and sweet mannered, and handsome, for a 67-year-old. But he is also quietly sexist, and is helped in this by our heroine, Elfrida.

Elfrida puts up with it, because that’s what a Pilcher girl does. She goes from only bothering with her own chores and her dog, to running a household for five, plus the dog. She does it uncomplainingly, while Oscar is allowed to ‘have outbursts.’

One can overlook this, and I did. The story is still a warm and lovely thing, leading up to Christmas. It’s about togetherness, and new beginnings. But it was kind of interesting to discover the inequalities.

Might reread it again, some December in a few years’ time, if we’re all still here.

Adventing on

As I was egging Daughter on to tackle her double Advent task of reading two books every day, instead of merely opening chocolatey windows, it dawned on me that I wanted to do that too.

I gave her Cornelia Funke’s Hinter verzauberten Fenstern for her birthday, with the notion that it’d give a her some starter German reading practice, which she might succumb to because it’s the run-up to Christmas, and she likes that. Besides, there’s already the Jostein Gaarder she tends to read every year. At least when I/we/she haven’t lost the book… We now own several copies of The Christmas Mystery.

But what I really had a yearning for was neither of these two excellent Advent books. It was Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice. I looked at the book I was reading. Then I got out the Pilcher, and it wasn’t long before I was lost in the sad beginnings of Winter Solstice.

What remains to be discovered is whether I will be able to slow down. Once the introductions have been made, you can read this novel more or less ‘in time’ with your own December. But not if you want to do it in one sitting. Well, maybe two, considering it’s nearly 700 pages.

I’ll let you know. (But I already feel better for having rebelled, and for being back in Rosamunde’s wintry Scotland.)

Rosamunde Pilcher

I was sorry to see that Rosamunde Pilcher died last week. On Bookwitch’s birthday, no less.

94 is a good age to reach, and from what I understand, she was well until Christmas. I’m relieved that there wasn’t a long period of suffering for her.

One thing I didn’t know, was that she lived not too far away from me, in Dundee. I think I was so into the Cornwall image that I assumed Rosamunde lived somewhere romantic like that. Instead she was romantic in Dundee.

I still intend to reread Winter Solstice some December. It’s the perfect lead-up to Christmas book. I didn’t read all that many of her novels. It was Mother-of witch who was the big fan, liking the romance and attractive settings, with no need for dead bodies all over the place.

My Christmas conundrum

I know it’s still September, but only just. The shops are already full of Christmas stuff. Saw some ugly trees at Dobbies the other day, and was disappointed, as this year I might actually be interested in a new tree (on account of the old one possibly not fitting into the new house so well). But I wouldn’t dream of buying it now.

Though that is perhaps my problem. I should buy now, while stocks last.

It’s not trees I wanted to discuss, of course, but books. In the book world they start being sold in October. It will be October in only a couple of days. I have had a pile of Christmas books lying around for weeks and weeks. The latest one to arrive I browsed through and found myself slipping into a Christmassy mood and that was way too early. Off to the premature Christmas pile with it!

I used to think that if I read them early and wrote reviews I could then post them on the blog close to Christmas. Handy. But I worked out that by the time we all feel more or less Christmassy in mid-December, no one will be reading reviews or going out to buy seasonal books for their little ones.

So December is too late. Maybe. When is the right time? If you ever want to read reviews of books with a Christmas theme, rather than suggestions of a book to buy as a Christmas present, when do you want it?

When would you buy it?

And who buys them and for whom? Is it as a Christmas present, or just as something December-ish to read to your tiny person (or give a slightly bigger tiny person to read themselves) to get into a Christmas mood?

I don’t remember Offspring being given anything like that, even by me. I think that any books featuring Christmas I got for me to read to them, to enjoy as December strolled along. So perhaps they aren’t presents?

It seems stupid to ask, but I just don’t know what purpose the books have, or who would buy them. Or when the ultimate time for reviews of them would be.

I have blogged before about my fondness for Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice which is the perfect book to read in December. Or the various Advent-y books to read a little bit of every day, like those by Cornelia Funke or Jostein Gaarder. Those you do need to know about in time, or it’d be too late when Christmas arrives.

I’m not ready to read or review the Christmas pile yet. Are you?

Paradise

It’s good.

We all want to inherit a great old house in Cornwall, or possibly in Scotland. It’s such a romantic idea, and the extremities of the country somehow always appear more charming, even when it rains most of the time.

Paradise is my first Joanna Nadin book. It’s not at all what I expected. As I said, it is good. It’s not that I didn’t expect that. Just different. Paradise is more of a Rosamunde Pilcher for teens in the noughties, if that makes sense. I felt right at home from the start, and I could almost be Billie who inherits her grandmother’s house, only to find there are an awful lot of secrets that come with the house and the small Cornish town it’s in.

She never knew her father, and she moves from London with her Mum and her younger half-brother Finn. They have no money, and soon the house begins to affect her Mum in unexpected ways.

Chapters come from all sorts of points of view, so we see what has happened in the past and what is happening now. We see the thoughts and memories of Billie and her Mum, as well as the dead grandmother’s and a few other people’s. This means the reader can piece together what must have happened, while it takes the main characters quite a bit longer to know the whole truth.

It can be bleak in Cornwall in March. Cold. The gas bills mount up and the seaside doesn’t have its summer charms. But Billie still feels she belongs, especially after she meets Danny. He is as charming and perfect for her as Billie’s real Dad was for her Mum.

And what did the older generation get up to? Really?

This is a wonderful story. Even in the cold.

Advent and the anticipation of Christmas

It was such a relief to find I’m not the only one. At the Lancashire Book Awards in June I sat next to someone at dinner who, unprompted, said she loves Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice. I’m fairly sure I didn’t dream that she rereads this novel regularly. I would like to, but you know where I am with reading time. I’ve got my copy of the book out now, and have looked very carefully at the early chapters, and need to keep myself under tight control so that I don’t wake up and find I’m reading all 700 pages, again.

Is Pilcher considered too light and romantic to be a proper author? Some of her earlier books I find a little out of tune with modern life and values, but Winter Solstice is up-to-date, and is such a feel-good story, despite the dreadful things that happen early on. I console myself with the thought that it’s necessary to make the rest of the book happen. It’s an unusual book for me, because I first read it as a serial in a Swedish magazine. I liked it so much, that when the book appeared in front of me in a shop, I had to buy it.

I’m fairly sure it was sheer coincidence that I sat down to read it in late November that year. I was busy, so found I couldn’t read a lot in one sitting. This meant I was reading the story more or less in real time, once the introductory chapters were done. Since it’s a romantic and charming tale about the run-up to Christmas, it was the perfect book for December.

If I could, I’d read it every December. As it is, I hope to read it again one year, at the right time, just to get into the mood. Since it features ‘old’ people, it can only become more appropriate with the passing of time.

I had really hoped to have some sort of Advent idea for December this year, but I don’t. Winter Solstice will have to be my Advent offering to you.

Gustav Adolf altar

December books

There aren’t just “Advent calendar” books; there are Christmas books, too.

At the risk of some of you disappearing off in disgust, I have to tell you that some years ago I really enjoyed Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice. A bit old-fashioned and romantic, but a very comforting and satisfying build-up to Christmas, which I read in more or less real time.

Adele Geras knows how to comfort, too. Silent snow, secret snow is a Christmas house party, all snowed in. If I knew how to write fiction, I could have written it myself. I get worried about Adele, because sometimes we seem to share the same daydreams. Maybe I can adopt her as my older sister.

More Adele and Christmas with Hester’s Story. Another sort of house party, albeit a working party, and lots of secrets and intrigue. But it would have made a perfect Christmas read, had the book not come out in January a few years ago. Talk about bad timing.

It’s too late for this year, but I’d be grateful for suggestions for future December reading. As it’s Christmas, cosiness and romance are more than welcome. Something soothing for when your family is screaming among the mince pies.