Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher is not on my List of Some Books I’ve Read 3 Times or More, though I have indeed read it three times or more. Representing Ms Pilcher’s oeuvre on the List in Question is Coming Home, which I discussed during Historical Fiction Week. I do, however, have to mention Winter Solstice here because it is so obviously a seasonal read. Much of the action happens before Christmas and the book ends before Christmas Day, but Christmas and the true celebration of that holiday is pivotal to the action in the book.
Because a Christian celebration is pivotal to the book you might think that the theology of the book is what makes it appealing to me. There’s some theology, but I’m afraid it is pretty far in the background. Some might find the theology in the book pronounced. I thought not. Oh, it is there, but it is a weak tea sort of theology, nothing robust at all. It is too bad, because there is potential for a bit more. I frequently read Winter Solstice at this time of year, not for the seasonal cheer, but because of a particular scene or two in which a guest or stranger arrives at a house and finds an unexpectedly warm welcome. This sort of theme recurs through the book. This theme is very theological, and much more robust than the explicit weak-tea theology in the book. The book also captures the darkness of the season well, along with the pleasure of a well-lit room viewed from a dark street. It is a nice bit of brain candy for the winter.
Today is Santa Lucia, and I did attempt to think of a book that connected with the festival. I thought of Coming Home (which led to Winter Solstice) because in the opening scene two friends leave school for the Christmas holidays after eating saffron buns. Saffron buns are a large part of celebrating Santa Lucia, even when we are slightly cheeky and call them eye-ball buns. The Norwegian taught us how to celebrate Santa Lucia and so I lift a (unfortunately imaginary) glass of mulled wine in her direction and say Happy Santa Lucia!