It has taken me a while to finish another book... and not, as one might expect, due to the holidays, but instead because my reading time has been sucked up by this golf game Jeff brought home for the PSP.
Anyway, my mum is visiting right now and has become hooked on the golf game, too, which gave me a chance to swipe the book she just finished (tit for tat!). I read this one when it first came out, but hardly remember anything about it, so was happy to read it again.
Rosamunde Pilcher's novels are peopled with beautiful, impeccably dressed characters with outlandish names. Most of them are wealthy, but generous to the less fortunate around them. This story features retired actress Elfrida Phipps, who moves to a small country village after the death of her lover; her friend Oscar, recovering from a shocking tragedy, and an assortment of relatives and hangers-on whose stories all come together in a magically contrived way at Christmas time, resulting in love, happiness, and new beginnings for all.
In spite of my flip comments, I actually really liked this book - stayed up way past my bedtime reading it. There's something engaging in the story, something that makes me want to find out what will happen to the characters, even while I'm shaking my head over the latest unnecessarily detailed description of what they are wearing. There's some entertainment here that goes beyond the curious overuse of the verb "humping" to mean "carrying something awkward or heavy". In fact I was even able to overlook the main flaw in this story, which is the totally pointless and annoying repeating of information that takes place because each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character; at some points, even the dialogue is repeated, word for word. This would be welcome and necessary if I were reading a serialized novel, but I'm not, so it made me wonder what Ms. Pilcher's editor was up to instead of cutting those sections. (Maybe s/he was busy making sure the all-important clothing descriptions were just right?)
I think the thing that was most compelling to read here was the vivid description of the settings that Pilcher has shown her love for in previous books - a bit of Cornwall, and a lot of rural Scotland. I found as I was reading that I was gripped with a very strong desire to go there; the book made me feel like I'd missed out on something very special and important by never having spent a Christmas in a Scottish village, like the people in this book. Sign me up!
Anyway, that's a lukewarm recommendation if I ever read one! But I'm tired and cranky, so there you go.