The December solstice is a turning point. For some, it represents a time of darkness, the shortest day of the year. But for others, this event-just a few days before Christmas-is about hope, renewal and rebirth. In a story both deceptively simple and effortlessly complex, Rosamunde Pilcher brings together five very different people, ranging in age from mid-sixties to teenagers, each of whom must confront very different challenges or losses. When Efrida Phipps abandons London for a quaint country village, she settles in quickly. She has a tiny cottage, her faithful dog, Horace, and the friendship of good neighbors, Oscar, Gloria and their little girl. Perhaps, at last, she can exorcise the pain of the past and find peace. But it is not to be. Tragedy upsets Elfrida's newfound tranquility and she takes refuge in a rambling house in the North of Scotland called Corrydale. Almost like a magnet, Corrydale attracts various waifs and strays, each of them escaping difficult personal pasts. As the holiday approach and the weather turns foul, it seems a perfect recipe for disaster. But somehow the group proves to be greater than the sun of its ill-suited parts, and as the solstice passes and Christmas approaches, the healing power of love on even the most troubled human spirit begins to work its magic. Elfrida Phipps, once of London's stage, moved to the English village of Dibton in hopes of making a new life for herself. Gradually, she settled into the comfortable familiarity of village life—shopkeepers knowing her tastes, neighbors calling her name—still she finds herself lonely.