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on 9 September 2008
I first read this book way back in 1987 when it first came out and have just now re-read it - 21 years later and it still is an amazing read. Rosamunde Pilcher really makes you care about the characters and what happens to them and I really didn't want it to finish!

The book hops back and forward through time with chapters detailed by different characters' names but this only adds to the book as you discover things about the characters that happened previously and everything is explained in the fullness of time. The only characters I found somewhat unconvincing were Nancy and her family - they didn't seem to have any redeeming features at all and I found that a bit hard to believe.

The description in the book is very good and you feel that you are there feeling the wind or smelling the roses - Rosamunde Pilcher is presumably a keen gardner!

I can definitely recommend this book and will probably read it again in another 20 years time!
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on 15 April 2012
It's difficult to write about this author without using the words 'warm family saga' - that's her speciality, and that's what this is.
The story hops about through time, from the thirties to the eighties, as artist's daughter Penelope Keeling re-lives the past and remembers the love of her life, while dealing with present problems concerning her children and her father's artistic legacy.
Ms Pilcher is an old-fashioned sort of writer, and I don't mean that as a criticism: these days I'm very happy to read a good story well told, with no pretensions or gimmicks. There's no sex either, of course, but it's not a sugary romance, there's plenty of realism and real emotion. The wartime scenes set in Cornwall are particularly good: this is the authentic voice of someone who's lived through it all herself, and who values some rather unfashionable virtues like stiff upper lip bravery, and keeping calm and carrying on.
But have you ever re-read a book after a long period, and discovered that it's not quite as good as you remembered it? I loved this when it was first published in 1988, and I've always put it right up there with her other great success, Coming Home. But for me it hasn't stood the test of time nearly as well.
Mostly because I found Penelope to be rather annoying the second time around. She's lived a bohemian and sometimes penniless life, but quite a privileged one - she's inherited property and never has to work for a living - and although she says she despises snobbery she's still a snob, just of a different kind. She tells us how fond she is of working class evacuee Doris, for instance, but it's Doris who's expected to make the tea.
And she's very judgemental about her children, while taking little responsibility for their faults. By the end I found myself sympathising with her daughter Nancy, despised and dismissed by her mother because she didn't turn out to be 'special'. We're constantly being told how fat and unattractive she looks, compared to Penelope's new young friend Antonia. Poor Nancy: if my mother had given family heirlooms away to virtual strangers, I'd have been quite upset, too!
I think I'd have preferred it if, like Coming Home, the whole thing had been set during the war years, dispensing with the more modern parts altogether, so that some of the out-dated assumptions would have sat more naturally.
But Ms Pilcher does this sort of thing so well: if you're looking for a 'warm family saga', then this is a very good one.
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on 22 August 2000
I thought the previous reviewers' verdicts rather harsh. I enjoyed "Winter Solstice" and I didn't find it THAT predictable. Carrie and Sam, both having been hurt before, were understandably wary of each other, and teenager Lucy's future could have developed in a number of different ways. The relationship between Elfrida and Oscar probably demanded the greatest suspension of disbelief, but I found the way the varied characters interacted and the wealth of household details very satisfying.
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on 14 October 2000
This was my first time with Rosamund Pilcher and I thoroughly enjoyed it all beit a little heavy to hold in bed! I think her writing is so descriptive, you can see, taste and feel everything she describes. I did not want to put this book down from the very first page. Elfrida, a charming if slightly eccentric past actress of little repute charms you with her eccentricity and her warmth. Heading for Scotland with her sad bereaved friend Oscar they set up house together. You can sense the togetherness of these two without any descriptive sex! and Pilcher introduces her ecclectic characters with delightful ease. I recommend this book to any avid reader of fiction.
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on 5 December 2002
Rosamunde Pilcher has a warm, compassionate and inspired triumph in Winter Solstice! From the first page, you are transported from everyday life to the small village where Elfrida and Oscar Gloria's exhuberant dinner the tranquil lifestyle at Jeffrey's and Serena's cliffside cottage on the blustery coast....and ultimately to the wonderful old estate house at Creagan. Winding your way through this tragic, yet heartwarming story of faith and courage, of loneliness-and-sorrow-turned-to-love, you will meet and become enchanted with the perfectly chosen settings and with the characters and the direction their individual and collective lives are taking. The readers who found this book "predictable" or "dull" leave me puzzled. There is sufficient flash, dash and excitement in the world today to render a book like Winter Solstice a breath of fresh air...and an excellent the fire, by the beach, or on a mountaintop. This will be a personal favorite for a long time to come. Just one question...on my paperback copy, there is a beautiful picture of three delicate pink crocuses freshly sprung from the fits the story so well that I'm wondering why the cover on the newer edition was changed. No matter, what awaits the reader inside is a literary delight for the gentlehearted, and perhaps a much-needed change of pace for those who are not.
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on 26 March 2000
Rosamunde Pilcher creates a world which we feel fortunate to have been able to visit. The depth of her characters and the emotions her plot evokes make this book a must read for sentimental people. This was my first Rosamunde Pilcher book. She is an author you want to come back to.
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on 31 July 2011
I feel a bit guilty about criticising this book - it feels like trashing a much-loved and still stylish grandma for being past her best.
Rosamunde Pilcher is a good, old fashioned storyteller, and her stories are about families coming to terms with crises. The families aren't always related, and the crises are wide ranging, from war and sudden bereavement to moving house and going away to school. If you like a big family saga to fall into then they don't come any better than her two bestsellers, The Shell Seekers and Coming Home. I've read them over and over again. Escapist in the best possible sense, well written, great stories and scene setting, wonderful characters, impossible to put down. And, though I don't want to get all ageist, I'd say they're books for grown-ups, and a welcome relief from all the chick-lit sex and shopping sagas we get nowadays.
This is her last novel and I wouldn't say it's a book too far, but it's not in the same league as her earlier work. The characters aren't as likeable or as interesting, the relationships aren't as credible, the plot isn't as gripping - and all the loose ends are tied up so neatly at the end, it would make even Maeve Binchy blush! For the first time, I found the tone a little out of date, and even rather snobbish.
But for all that, it's a still a good read and I quite enjoyed it. Even at her worst, it's better than a lot of the more fashionable stuff that gets published these days. I'll miss her books.
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on 7 March 2009
I absolutely LOVED this book. It's so beautifully written with such vivid and true to life detail and imagery that I don't understand why this novel is not more widely read. The author is clearly immensely talented, and employs an astoundingly clever style in her writing and depiction of family life. The book reads so easily that the 600 pages fly by and before you know it you've reached the end and long for more. Pilcher's characterization is superb and her attention to detail makes the novel seem really authentic and real, making you feel as though you are watching the story being played out in your head rather than reading words on pages (a rare thing that all truly brilliant novels should have). The story is also excellent and surprisingly entertaining with it's simple premise. I especially appreciated the saga aspect of the novel, going back into Penelope's early life during the war, as it seems so nostalgic. Another positive aspect is the fact that the book is consistent throughout in terms of focusing on the emotional relationships between all the characters in the book, rather than simply creating a dramatic story. The ending was also unexpected and heart-warmingly bittersweet, I struggle to find fault with this beautiful book.
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on 17 December 2005
I was in the UK the day that this book was first offered for sale in August 2000. I sent copies home to friends and to myself. It is a favorite book since the hero and heroine are not in their 30's. I am now re-reading it since it is that time of the year again and I always enjoy it. It is a wonderful story of friendship, new-found "family", love and the kindness of others. Since I have a Scottish lineage, the location is particularly enticing. The descriptions of people and places allows the reader to be part of the story, if only in wishful thinking. The reader is there. What a great way to spend time reading. Rosamund Pilcher is one of my favorite authors that I can read over again. Wonderful story!
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on 8 November 2010
This is a typical Rosamunde Pilcher book which I found myself engrossed in and couldn't wait to get back to reading about all the characters who take the lead in varying chapters throughout the book. Yes, it is a light read but that is what I enjoy rather than a serious challenge! The only criticism I have is the mix up between anti-freeze and de-icer in one chapter when the windscreen of the car was iced up - oh dear where was the proof reader?
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