05 September 2006

Winter Solstice (starring Sinéad Cusack and Jan Niklas)

I’m a huge fan of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novels, and have recently started collecting some of the films based on them. My husband is unlikely ever to read books of this kind, but enjoys movies and adaptations of books - and in general, they make pleasant viewing.

'Winter Solstice' is the last saga novel Pilcher wrote, and, in my view, her very best. It's a poignant story about an elderly woman's friendship with a local family, which is shattered when tragedy strikes. She then goes away for a while for some space... only to be joined by more and more needy people in various circumstances, who find themselves stranded over Christmas, due to the weather.

There isn't really a great deal of plot as such, but many intertwining sub-plots, and some totally delightful people of all ages. It would, I thought, make a wonderful film. This adaptation was made for television, which - I assumed - would allow the director to meander through the story, keeping relatively close to Pilcher's original.

I was wrong.

I suppose that 'based on’ the book is an accurate description, since there were indeed the same major characters, and the same overall idea of diverse people gathering together in the winter.

But that's where the resemblance stops. Well, to be fair, I did recognise some of the storylines as one might recognise a long-lost friend after many cosmetic changes. But it wasn't the book by Rosamunde Pilcher. I really do prefer movies to stick more closely to the original – I understand that some parts must be left out, and other sections have to be shown differently for good drama, but I don’t much like extra sub-plots and characters being introduced.

But, having said that, this was an excellent romantic family-type film. Once I had decided to forget about the book and concentrate on enjoying what I was watching, I found that I did - very much - despite its variances from the book. So although purists would probably be disappointed, I would recommend this to anyone. My husband loved it, and I did too. Even though I'd like to see a real adaptation of Pilcher's'Winter Solstice' one day!

(Note that 'Winter Solstice' alone is not currently available at Amazon in the UK; it's packaged with a movie called 'Summer Solstice' which is apparently loosely based on some of the same characters but bears no relation at all to Pilcher's writings).

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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