‘Tis the season!

Recently, I participated in the “25 Authors and Their Holiday Traditions” interview with Hasty Book List.

I love my holiday traditions. There’s Christmasification Day, the day when I lug all the Christmas decorations from the attic, take down all my year-round home decor and replace it with its holiday-themed counterpart. It always takes hours. It’s always exhausting, and it’s always worth the effort.

There’s the annual December binge of holiday movies with my husband and kids. For me, the animated Grinch beats the live action one, Scrooged is the best adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and Die Hard is unequivocably a Christmas movie. Anyone who says differently sits on a throne of lies.

There’s even my extended family’s tradition of stealth-decorating one of our houses…with a hideously ugly set of holiday antlers. Yes, antlers. It started decades ago as a gag between my dad and my uncle, and – like a snowball rolling downhill – grew bigger to include us all.

But hands down, my favorite traditions is my annual re-reading of Rosamund Pilcher’s Winter Solstice. In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, I steal a few hours here and there to curl up on the sofa with a blanket and a cup of tea (in a Christmas mug, of course) and lose myself in the story. I think part of the reason I enjoy it so much is that it’s a little cocoon of self care in the midst of a busy season. When I’m reading, I’m detached from my to-do list. I’m not wrapping gifts, cleaning, cooking, shopping or working. It’s bliss. Still, that’s just part of the reason. The truth is, I love this book. Here’s why:

The Setting
I’m a sucker for quaint, probably because I grew up in New England. Give me a sleepy little town on the sea in the off-season and I’m all in. This is Winter Solstice in a nutshell; it’s crackling fires, hot cups of tea, and bracing walks on the beach, all in a far-flung village in Scotland.

The Characters
Winter Solstice centers on five people, each nursing a loss of some kind. At the heart of the book is Elfrida, a retired London actress who trades the city for a quiet life in a small English town. Her life is far from quiet, however, with the unexpected friendship of party-throwing socialite Gloria Blundell and her kind – and more introverted – husband Oscar. There’s Elfrida’s cousin Carrie, newly returned to London following the end of an affair in Europe, and Carrie’s niece Lucy, a teenager heartbreakingly ignored by her parents. All are brought together to Oscar’s childhood home in Scotland for Christmas.

The Snowstorm
Every good story needs a mysterious stranger, right? That’s Sam, an ex-pat back in the UK following years of living and working in New York. Sam’s clearly there to be Carrie’s new love interest…but how do you plausibly bring a stranger into the mix – and into the house – for days at a time? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

That these interwoven stories of loss, healing, and redemption take place during Christmas adds to the book’s richness. Heat up that tea water, grab your favorite cozy blanket, and enjoy.

Read the full blog on Hasty Book List.

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