Posts Tagged ‘Winter Solstice’

Lucia, Lucia, Adriana Trigiani
I’ve been hearing about Trigiani’s writing for a while, found this paperback at Brattle, and decided it was a sign. And oh my. I’m hooked. I loved this story about Lucia, growing up in Greenwich Village, amid the color and glamour and tumultuous change of the fifties, sixties and afterward. Trigiani’s writing style is lush, her characters are real, and they win your heart. Love love love.

Shepherds Abiding, Jan Karon
I reread this special Christmas installment in the Mitford series, wanting to find some of the peace that infuses it, as Father Tim restores a special Nativity scene, and his friends in Mitford prepare for Christmas in their own ways. My favorites are Hope Winchester’s Christmas tree, a beacon of hope above her bookstore, and Uncle Billy Watson’s homemade gift for his cantankerous wife, which turns her into a beaming little girl again. (Sniff. Sniff.) Wonderful.

Viola in Reel Life, Adriana Trigiani
This is Trigiani’s young adult debut, following snarky, artsy Viola to boarding school in the Midwest. I liked her relationships with her roommates, though I found Viola herself a bit self-absorbed at times. (I guess we all are, at fifteen.) She reminds me of Tibby from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Good fun, but I like Trigiani’s other books (adult fiction? women’s fiction?) better.

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
Not a very Christmassy read, but I’d been waiting for the hold to be filled at the library for weeks. This was the most gruesome of the three books; Collins seems almost casual at times about all the bloodshed. And, well, I don’t like Katniss that much by the end, though I know she’s been through intense trauma. I’m not sure exactly how I would have changed the ending – but – I was disappointed. (Still worth reading, for those of you who haven’t.)

Very Valentine, Adriana Trigiani
More delights in Greenwich Village, this time at the Angelini Shoe Company, which makes custom wedding shoes and makes me want to go visit. I love Valentine, the peacemaking middle child and maiden auntie who carries everybody’s burdens. And I love her Gram, the elegant Teodora Angelini, and their whole crazy Italian family. The first book in a charming trilogy.

The Golden Road, L.M. Montgomery
I picked this up because of the scenes near the beginning – Christmas at the King farmstead and New Year’s resolutions around the kitchen fireside. But I wound up rereading the whole thing, for the first time in years. Sweet, wholesome, good fun. Oh, how I love all things Montgomery.

The Story Girl, L.M. Montgomery
Yes, I know these are out of order. But I kept thinking about the crowd of King children and their friends, so I picked up this prequel to The Golden Road again, and was as charmed by it as ever.

Brava, Valentine, Adriana Trigiani
The second book in a charming trilogy. (At least, I’m sure Book 3 will be charming – it hasn’t been published yet.) I loved watching Valentine grow through this book, learning how to deal with her brother and new business partner, Alfred, and learning how to open herself up to love. I love her sisters and mother and her hilarious best friend, Gabriel, and I love that all the chapter titles are Frank Sinatra songs.

Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
I needed a comforting story I could live in on our long trip to Texas, where we spent Christmas with my in-laws and then headed to Abilene. I never get tired of this story. Ever.

Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation, Luci Shaw
A collection of breathtaking, fresh poetry on Christ’s breaking into this world – such gorgeous meditations on his annunciation, birth, life, death and rising. I’d buy this to read again each year. Lovely and thought-provoking – which I expect from Shaw.

Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear
Book Club Girl is hosting a read-along of this series on her blog (you can still sign up!), and I picked this first book up at my beloved Brattle. It’s a compelling mystery, but also a thoughtful portrait of England during and after World War I. And the story of one woman’s struggle to rise above her station (she starts out as a maid, but studies at Girton College, Cambridge) and to find her way to the work she’s meant to do. I was fascinated. And am already working on the sequel.

What have you been reading lately?

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(Sacred Heart Parish, down the street from us – and our first New England snow)

“That first day, the day you arrived, you and I sat in the church and talked about Christmas and the Winter Solstice. […] I remembered having exactly the same conversation with [my daughter Francesca] a year or so ago. Trying to explain about the Christmas star and the scientists’ theory of time. And she listened but was not convinced. She didn’t want to be convinced. She liked the story just as it was.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone.

That was the way she wanted Christmas to be, and for Francesca it wouldn’t have been magic any other way. Because the carols and the darkness and the presents were all part of a time when life took flight, and the whole world soared to the stars.”

-Rosamunde Pilcher, Winter Solstice

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“As for God, I frankly admit that I find it easier to live with the age-old questions about suffering than with many of the easy or pious explanations offered from time to time. Some of which seem to verge on blasphemy.”

“Life is sweet. Beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet. The basics are still there. Beauty, food, and friendship, reservoirs of love and understanding. Later, possibly not yet, you are going to need others who will encourage you to make new beginnings. Welcome them. They will help you move on, to cherish happy memories and confront the painful ones without bitterness or anger.”

-From Winter Solstice, an absolutely delightful Rosamunde Pilcher novel that Julie D. gave me for Christmas. I couldn’t put it down, not even during the exciting end/overtime of the Boise State-OU game the other night. The above quotes are spoken by Peter Kennedy, minister of a church in a small Scottish village, to Oscar Blundell, a man who has just lost his wife and child in a terrible car crash. The whole story is learning to love and live again after enduring great loss, and even to trust that God is still good, despite appearances to the contrary. This resonates particularly as I think about the Sheets family, and others I know (the Halberts; my own cousin Margaret; the Copes) who have lost children through the years. But I think these words can apply to any fresh start, including that of a new year. Beyond the pain of the old year, with all its mistakes and doubts and worries, life continues to be sweet. And we all need people who will help us make new beginnings. We must welcome them, and be glad for them.

I’m glad for all of you.

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