Winter Solstice, the final book in the Quinn family quartet, is Elin Hilderbrand at her best. Her novels have long been among my bookish summer staples — taking a day or two to dip into the sandy shores of Hilderbrand’s Nantucket is a delightful retreat during the warm summer months. I was late getting into her Winter series (I started in Book 3 of 4), but that in no way diminished the emotional impact of Winter Solstice’s bittersweet tone.
As the book begins, Quinn family patriarch Kelly has stopped his cancer treatments, and is living out the remainder of his days listening to Danielle Steele novels on his phone. (I love this detail. There’s a great line where Kelly considers reading all the classics he never made time for before, only to realize he really has no interest in ever reading Moby Dick, and Danielle Steele audiobooks are much more worth his time.) Youngest son Bart is home from being a prisoner in Afghanistan. I love how Hilderbrand portrays his PTSD, particularly his trauma over chicken (there’s a rather horrifying reason behind it), and I love how he unexpectedly falls in love. Kelly’s wife Mitzi has made the difficult decision to sell the inn, and makes the most of her time left with her husband by throwing one large family gathering after another. Youngest daughter Ava has to deal with her boyfriend Potter’s son hating her, and Potter himself being unable to connect with the boy. Kelly’s first wife Margaret decides to retire from her illustrious broadcasting career to spend more time with her family. Fast Eddie hits the jackpot with a newly wealthy couple looking to buy property — one of them potentially interested in the Quinn’s inn. And much like in the previous book Winter Storms, Kelly and Mitzi’s daughter-in-law Jennifer has one of my favourite storylines: here, she confronts her pill addiction and tries to forge a new career.
If Winter Storms was an uplifting, heartwarming holiday read, Winter Solstice is a bittersweet reminder that nothing lasts forever. Childhood homes get sold, people move on, and the Nantucket that has been your home for decades will be forever changed. It’s a lovely, moving final moment with the Quinns, and a fitting fond farewell to the characters who have grown so much, and forged such a bond with us, over the past few books.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.