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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-30 16:39
A Time for Healing and an Impromptu Family
Winter Solstice - Rosamunde Pilcher

I ended up enjoying the two books of Pilcher I read so much I decided to read this one and hang waiting until this Fall. "Winter Solstice" touched me a lot. I can see why Moonlight re-reads this one every year. I can see me re-reading this come December. It was a really delightful book and I have to say that everyone in it was fantastic. I am also glad that Pilcher didn't give the characters of Sam and Carrie a happily ever after with romance linked to it. If anything, I see these two as friends, and believe that is probably things will stay due to Carrie's job. I for one am thrilled we didn't have some mess with a woman giving up her sense of self and job for a man. 

 

I am going to give a word of warning here for those who think this is typical romance. There is adultery in this one, and even a situation where we have something going on between a recently widowed man and one of the main characters. I was a bit surprised at first, but rolled with it since it just worked. Moving on to the book now. 

 

Elfrida is a retired actress who has recently moved out of London and is determined to start over again for the last time. She has adopted a dog (Horace) and is determined to be more involved with her nephew and his family. She is taken in by a local family, the Blundell's anf feels a kinship with the father, Oscar, and his daughter, Francine. She realizes she is in danger of it turning into something more and goes away for a month in order to be with her family. When she returns, she finds out that Oscar's wife and daughter have been killed, and he is subsequently being turfed out of his home by his stepsons. Elfrida is taking into Oscar's uncle's confidence and is told about half a house he owns in Scotland. She decides that is where she and Oscar will go so that he can heal away from the village that has so many memories of his dead wife and child. 

 

The book then flips back and forth between Elfrida's nephew's daughter Carrie, a businessman named Sam, Oscar, and Carrie's niece Lucy. All of these people have something going on in their lives that will cause them to be in Scotland for Winter Solstice (and Christmas). 

 

Carrie is getting over a love affair that went south. Moving back to London has her realizing that her mother and sister are still selfish. She ends up taking the reigns on being there for her niece Lucy after her sister is insisted on going to the U.S. for the holidays and her mother refusing to cancel her holiday plans. When Carrie reaches out to her aunt to stay with for the holidays (they really have no place else to go) they join her and Oscar in Scotland with the promise that no one will be celebrating the holiday.


Lucy is a teenager and is frustrated that her father has pretty much disappeared into his new life with his new wife and no her mother is trying to do the same. Her Aunt Carrie coming to the rescue with them going to Scotland for the holidays is just what Lucy needs. She meets a boy named Rory Kennedy and finds herself getting some confidence and finally someone to champion her. 

 

Sam is English, but had lived in New York for years. Newly separated, he is back in England with the proposition of a new job that will have him living in Scotland. I was meh on Sam. He wasn't a bad character or anything. I just didn't find him as engaging as everyone else in this book. And I thought it was pretty bad taste for him to try things on a bit with Carrie. I am glad that got the needed push back it deserved. 

 

I loved each and every piece of this. I also loved Elfrida actually being frustrated with Oscar at times (it's believable) with him wanting to hide from the world and the church and being at first upset that Elfrida's nieces are forced to come to them for the holidays. 

 

The book's settings move from a village in England and then mainly to Scotland. The whole place seemed quite magical. We get to read some what about the inhabitants of the place, but not too much though. We get insights into the Kennedy clan, a widowed and ill man, and Elfrida's housekeeper and her husband. 

 

I do think that the ending made sense for this book. There are still troubles thrown characters way, but they are doing the best that they can with what they got. I would have loved a sequel to this just to see how Elfrida, Oscar, and Lucy end up with Elfrida and Oscar in essence deciding to raise Lucy cause her mother has pretty much abandoned her.  

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review 2018-05-30 16:17
Don't Know What Else to Say Besides I Enjoyed It
The Shell Seekers - Rosamunde Pilcher

Even though I gave this five stars, I do want to say that the back and forth between timelines got a bit much after a while. I still loved this book, but when I re-read it in the future, I will probably just skip over that and stay mostly in the present parts of this book. 

 

"The Shell Seekers" follows Penelope Keeling and her family. Penelope is 64 years old and  is self-sufficient and determined to do her own thing, even though two of her adult children (Nancy and Noel) are hell-bent on either making sure their mother has a carer and finding out where the paintings their grandfather did (one of them called the Shell Seekers) in order to sell them after finding out how much they are now worth. 

 

The only child of Penelope's that will not make you want to smack them upside the head is Olivia.  

 

The book showcases Penelope's life, we follow her childhood, dealing with World War II, and then a loveless marriage that causes her to do what she can to support herself and her children due to her terrible husband. The book goes from that and to the present with her finding new friends that she cares about, Antonia (related to someone who was once close to Oilvia) and the gardener.  

 

I will say that due to reading "September" it was nice to find out in a little way what happened to Penelope's children, and we get to see a much different side to Noel. That said, reading this book, I ended up really disliking him and Nancy. Frankly I wish that Penelope had a chance to really tell off her two children. Selfish wasn't even the word.

 

Nancy without realizing it, seems to be in a loveless marriage and her two children are going to just disappear from her life one day. She blames her mother for a lot of things that made me want to tell her to grow up myself. 


Noel is hell-bent on money. You don't really get why since he seems to be doing well. 

 

Olivia seemed to be the only child that got her (we find out why that may be later) and the one she was closest to. We do find out about a man that Olivia was in love with, but that whole part was boring to me. Not enough for me to lower my rating, but enough for me to go okay, can we please get past this soon?

 

The writing was lyrical and once again I do think that Pilcher's books shine when she describes what is going on during World War II. That said, the flow of the book was affected by going back and forth to Penelope's past and the present day. We also would switch POVs too, so you don't just stick with Penelope through this, you go and read Nancy's, Noel's, and Olivia's, and even Penelope's mother, etc. in this one. 


The main setting of this book was Cornwall. I swear after reading the last couple of Pilcher books I need to visit there and Scotland. She really does a great job making the places in her books feel like characters. 

 

I have to say that the ending of the book was a surprise. I don't want to spoil, but thank goodness for Olivia. I would have loved to read a book with her in it as a central character again. Too bad that Pilcher is retired. 

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review 2018-05-30 15:57
Following a Young Girl Through World War II
Coming Home - Rosamunde Pilcher

So I ended up reading three Pilcher novels this holiday weekend. I needed something to do with myself so just decided to get those off my plate. I started with "Coming Home" and finished up with "Winter Solstice." I have to say that the only reason this one doesn't get five stars is that Pilcher was too afraid to allow one of the characters (Loveday) to have an unhappy ending. She had no one but herself to blame though, I just didn't find it realistic how she got her Happily Ever After. Other than that, I thought things were pretty much almost perfect. 

 

Starting in 1935, "Coming Home" follows 14 year old Judith Dunbar. Judith is to be left behind to start boarding school in England, while her mother and 4 year old sister are going to join her father in Singapore. Judith ends up being brought into a family of a girl that she meets at boarding school, Loveday Carey-Lewis. Judith quickly becomes enthralled with the whole family, Diana (the mother), Edgar (the father), Athena (the older sister) and Edward (the older brother). Judith feels for the first time that she has a home with the Carey-Lewis's family and is reluctant to be away from them very much. 

 

I really loved the character of Judith. She definitely realizes that life is not often fair. When she realizes that she is going to have to board and then vacation with her Aunt Louise (her father's sister) she takes things in stride. Luckily though, her aunt seems fond of her, and her mother's sister, her Aunt Biddy, is determined to be there for Judith and ensure that she have some fun. 

 

Judith is sensible, loyal, and loving. She's also smart and we find that out via the marks she gets at her boarding school and when she is accepted into Oxford. I was hoping that the ending of the book would have Judith going back to school or something, but that is left up in the air. We just know who she ends up with (no spoilers) and it seems that she will be content with that life. We also find out she is resilient when we see what she does when she realizes a man close to one of her aunt's is after Judith (that whole sequence in the book was freaky).  You are also going to feel sorry for Judith when she realizes her first love is full of it (no spoilers). I felt for her and wanted to throttle this person.  

 

I thought the other characters in this book were great. I loved Judith's Aunt Biddy and her uncle as well. They both adored her and do their best to be there for her when a tragedy occurs that affects Judith. 

 

The Carey-Lewis family definitely come alive. I have to say that even though he doesn't look it, the patriarch of the family is the strongest and definitely knows the weaknesses of the others. Athena I felt I didn't really get to know until about mid-way through the book. I initially liked Edward and then went meh. Loveday was selfish as the day was long. Pilcher makes all of these people feel like living and breathing people. 

 

The writing was really good. The flow worked throughout too. I did think that the book was really long though. I get why though, even if I thought some pieces could have been cut a bit. 

 

The backdrop of this book is the pre-war years and during and after World War II. Pilcher obviously knows of what she speaks (she lived through that) and I was fascinated about the details that were dropped. Who knew people would get fined for not having blackout curtains and if any sort of light came through. I did know about Dunkirk, but other incidents are mentioned in this one too. This book also ties what else is going on in Asia with the Japanese taking over in that region as well. 

 

I thought the ending was a bit much though. I am glad Judith got her happy ending, but Loveday's was not even a bit realistic. That whole thing felt very rushed and so did Judith's understanding with the man she is going to marry. Due to the length of this book, Pilcher could have added on another 20-30 pages and had a more satisfying ending. 

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review 2018-04-10 15:25
Solid Collection by Pilcher, Just Thought Some of the Stories Didn't Work
Flowers In the Rain & Other Stories - Rosamunde Pilcher

So I read this one after the other collection of short stories by Pilcher. I wish I had waited. Maybe that is coloring my review. I just thought that the majority of the stories in this one didn't work for me at all. Also, I got really tired of reading stories about broken engagements. They could all be summed up as so and so chose this person as second best. I don't think I would run off with anyone that just broke up with someone, so maybe that's my personal bias working. 

 

"The Doll's House" (3.5 stars)- A young boy missing his dead father, goes through with a promise to make a doll house for his younger sister. While that would be enough, he also has to deal with knowing that a local man is interested in his mother to marry and he hopes that she doesn't. Pilcher leaves us with enough to know how the story is going to end when we get finished with this story.


"Endings and Beginnings" (3 stars)-This one read as the longest story in this collection. A man (Tom) goes home for his Aunt Mabel's 75th birthday. He tries to get his girlfriend to come along and she declines. While home, he makes the acquaintance of his cousin or I don't know cousin once removed Kitty. Kitty's life has been a bit of a mess and now Tom seems intrigued by it and her. 

 

"Flowers in the Rain" (1 star)-I really didn't like this one at all. A woman returns back to a place her family spent holidays at. She's there (supposedly) to say hello to Mrs. Farquhar, but really she wants to know about her grandson, Rory. I think it just bugged me since it read as if the main character had put her life on hold for Rory. And though I was reading him as saying goodbye (he won't see her again) I think she was deluding herself a bit thinking he would come back to Scotland. It just read as depressing.

 

 "Playing A Round With Love" (2 stars)-I see this married couple getting divorced eventually. A man who is married acts surprised that his wife would not want him to take a whole day off to go golfing on the weekends. 

 

"Christabel" (1 star)-Another common theme in Pilcher's short stories seems to be young women/men who realize that they shouldn't marry someone like days before their wedding. I didn't see why Christabel or her grandmother were so impressed/loved the character of Sam. He was not developed enough for a short story for me to care about a tall. 

 

"The Blackberry Day" (2 stars)- A woman (Claudia) travels to her childhood friend's home to get away from the fact that a man she has been in a long term relationship with for years does not seem to be any closer to proposing marriage. I hated how this one ended since it just seemed that Claudia was going to choose whatever as long as she wasn't alone.

 

"The Red Dress" (1 star)-I was so confused by this story. I don't know if the main character was angling for an affair or what. She seemed way too intense/involved with the gardener who was married with kids. 

 

"A Girl I Used to Know" (3 stars)-An okay story. A woman finds out she can actually do things that she is scared to do. All of this winds up being about her being afraid her boyfriend will dump her if she doesn't ski.

 

"The Watershed" (4 stars)-I liked this one. A married woman who is about to celebrate her pearl anniversary, is wondering if she and her husband should stay in their big home. She is thinking about downsizing and moving to something small since their children have homes and lives of their own. 

 

"Marigold Garden" (2 stars)-Another broken engagement story.

 

"Weekend" (3 stars)- A young woman is afraid to get married thinking it could mean the end of her ability to be self-sufficient. Or at least that is what I took from this story.

 

"A Walk in the Snow" (3 stars)- A young girl realizes that the young boy she's in love with has moved on from her. The story ends in such a way though you realize she's already thinking of someone else. 

 

"Cousin Dorothy" (5 stars)-My favorite in this collection. A widowed woman trying to do her best for her daughter on her wedding day. I would have maybe shaken my daughter since the girl acted like a brat pretty much the entire story. Her husband's cousin rides to the rescue.

 

"Whistle for the Wind" (2 stars)-Another broken engagement story. 

 

"Last Morning" (4 stars)-A woman prepares for her son's wedding day. 

 

"Skates" (3 stars)- A young girl finally realizes that someone in her family sees her for who she is, not what she can be. It was a pretty weak story (IMHO) to end on in this collection. 

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review 2018-04-10 15:04
Great Collection of Short Stories
The Blue Bedroom: & Other Stories - Rosamunde Pilcher

I decided to go ahead and buy two of Pilcher's short story collections. I thought this one was stronger. That could have been because I read this one first though. The second one was good, but it just repeated themes that I already read about in this one so I found my interest waning a bit.

 

Toby (5 stars)- A young boy (Toby) learns about death. I also liked that there is a side story with his sister maybe realizing that the young man she has known forever would be more suitable to be with than the guy she brought home to her family. 


Home for the Day (5 stars)-I laughed loudly at this story. A married man (James) finds out what it really entails for his wife (Louisa) to keep the household running. Staying home with a cold (side-eye to James) he now knows what it means when his wife says "Nothing much" when he asks her what she has been doing all day. When James acts totally surprised that his wife isn't going to just bring him coffee and have a four course lunch laid out I cracked up. I thought this was very sweet and loved the ending. 

 

Spanish Ladies (3 stars)-A young girl is dealing with the death of her grandfather. Her older sister is about to be married and she pushes away anyone that can give her comfort. The ending definitely made it seem like she was going to be fixed up with a young man she despised until he sought her out and talked to her about her grandfather though. 

 

Miss Cameron at Christmas (4 stars)-This story made me sad. Miss Cameron spent most of her life taking care of her elderly parents which caused her to give up a lot. When her father finally dies, she is able to buy a home that is just for her. She ends up being drawn in by the family next door. 

 

Tea With the Professor (3 stars)-This seems to be a theme Pilcher likes to play with in her short stories, either a widowed man/woman and their children. A widowed woman is dealing with both of her children off to boarding school. She starts to wonder about the professor next door to her who seems interested in her as well. 

 

Amita (3 stars)-I don't know if this story was getting the point across that Pilcher wanted it to. Amita is about a French and Indian woman who ends up marrying a man from England prior to WWII. The story talks about how a young woman talking about Amita (her family was close to the young man's family) and how she realized her mother was racist. 

 

The Blue Bedroom (4 stars)-A young girl who has felt adrift since her mother has died makes a surprising connection to her new stepmother. Also can we say that the father getting married a year later says a lot about him. 

 

Gilbert (5 stars)-I cracked up reading this one. A man who marries a widow with two young daughters finally feels a part of things when he helps set up a possible pet funeral. 

 

The Before-Christmas Present (3 stars)-A married woman discovers feminism. 

 

The White Birds (2 stars)-A mother worries for her daughter who is about to give birth. During important times of her life, birds have come and signaled something wonderful happening. 


The Tree (3 star)-A young family with no money to fix up their home and cut down an unsightly tree get a visit by their cheap uncle which leads to surprising results. 

 

The House on the Hill (3 stars)-I wasn't feeling this one much either. A young boy comes to stay with his sister who is expecting her first child. He gets caught up in fantasies about a man that lives up on the hill from his sister. 

 

An Evening to Remember (5 stars)-Pretty funny story about a woman trying her best to get her home together and cook a great meal for her husband's boss and his wife. Things go sideways when they show up a day early. 

 

I thought the writing was very good in all of the stories though I didn't care for all of the plots. Pilcher has a great way of describing the weather, food, people, and places that makes the stories come alive. 

 

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