A beautiful novel by the much-loved Rosamunde Pilcher.
Elfrida Phipps loves her new life in her pretty Hampshire village. She has a tiny cottage, her faithful dog Horace and the friendship of the neighbouring Blundells - particularly Oscar - to ensure that her days include companionship as well as independence. But an unforeseen tragedy upsets Elfrida's tranquillity: Oscar's wife and daughter are killed in a terrible car crash and he finds himself homeless when his stepchildren claim their dead mother's inheritance.
Oscar and Elfrida take refuge in a rambling house in Scotland which becomes a magnet for various waifs and strays who converge upon it, including an unhappy teenage girl. It could be a recipe for disaster. But somehow the Christmas season weaves its magical spell and for Elfrida and Oscar, in the evening of their lives, the winter solstice brings love and solace.
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.
A really good book, never knowing how it would end.
Just too long
This is a sweet story but SO waffly - also a bit twee for my liking (teenagers still calling their mother “mummy” does my head in). Won’t be reading any more of hers.
Started off well…
…but too many coincidences in the book for me.