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Winter solstice
Rosamunde Pilcher
Adult Fiction PILCHER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The author of The Shell Seekers has penned another romance sure to give fans the warm fuzzies, even though it's set in the north of Scotland in winter. Colorful Elfrida Phipps, 60-ish and single, has retired from a lifetime on the stage to a country retreat in Hampshire, England. There, she is befriended by Oscar and Gloria Blundell and their 12-year-old daughter, Francesca. Oscar, an organist, is somewhat older than his wife and the Blundells live in Gloria's family house. When Gloria and Francesca die in an automobile accident, Gloria's sons from a previous marriage inform Oscar that they are selling the property and he must leave. Elfrida persuades the grief-stricken, penniless Oscar to return to his childhood haunt, Corrydale, in Creagan, Scotland. His grandmother's grand estate is now a hotel, but the former estate manager's house is vacant and still belongs to the family. With few ties herself, Elfrida moves with Oscar to Creagan, where he plans to escape the upcoming Christmas festivities and the sad memories they will arouse. A distant relative of Elfrida's is also looking for a quiet place to spend the holidays. Beautiful, stylish 30-year-old Carrie Sutton is escaping a painful love affair. She has rescued her 14-year-old niece, Lucy, from Lucy's neglectful mother and grandmother, and the two seek asylum with Elfrida and Oscar. When handsome, successful, separated Sam Howard knocks on their homey door in a snowstorm, there is nothing to be done but invite him to stay, and the five souls from three generations find Christmas isn't so sad, after all. As her devoted readers have learned to expect, Pilcher's fond descriptions of domestic detail and her atmospheric evocation of the Scottish landscape add substance to a predictable but heartwarming plot. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate; Reader's Digest Select Edition; audio rights to Random House. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In her new novel, Pilcher (The Shell Seekers) takes us to northern Scotland, where five vaguely connected people find themselves together at Christmas in a large Victorian house. They plan to "go pagan and celebrate the Winter Solstice with a lamb chop" but instead create a proper Christmas and soon come as close to one another as they are to the families from which they have been disenfranchised by death and cruel abandonment. Elfrida, a lonely retired actress, befriends Oscar, who is barely surviving the grief of the deaths of his wife and daughter in a car crash. Carrie, bereft after an aborted love affair, takes over the holiday care of her 14-year-old niece, Lucy, who is unwanted by her mother, grandmother, and indifferent father. Sam, in town to take charge of the old woolen mill, is reeling because his wife left him for another man. What lifts this saga above melodrama is the author's skill at creating believable, multifaceted characters with rich inner lives who sustain one another with good sense and gentle humor. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/00; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections.]DMolly Gorman, San Marino, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Elfrida Phipps
Age: 60s

Oscar Blundell
Recent widower.

Carrie Sutton
Age: 30
Independent; recovering from a failed love affair.

Sam Howard
His wife recently left him.

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