Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Short Stories on Wednesdays - Whistle for the Wind by Rosamunde Pilcher

Short Stories on Wednesdays is a weekly event hosted at Bread Crumb Reads to encourage people to read at least one short story a week.

Whistle for the Wind, fourteenth story.
17 pages long.
First published in Good Housekeeping July, 1991.
Flowers In The Rain & Other Stories published 1991.

Now that I've committed to reading a weekly short story, I look forward to Wednesdays. I have put all my short story collections on the same shelf,

and as Wednesday draws near I begin to wonder what I will read. Sometimes I pick up a book, find a story, and know immediately that this shall be my selection. But sometimes a day like today happens. I have been irresolute and unsettled all day. I'd go to the shelf, pick something up, begin a story, and put it back on the shelf. I tried Hemingway. I tried Ngaio Marsh. I read a bit of Katherine Anne Porter and Irwin Shaw and Kay Boyle. Then I stopped and thought, well, I guess no story this week. But then I saw Rosamunde Pilcher's Flowers In The Rain, and thought that's where I want to be - inside a Rosamunde Pilcher story. And so, even though I offered one by her a month ago, I'm offering another today. Maybe I'll write about a Pilcher story on the last Wednesday of every month.

I begin to think that I like her stories even better than her books. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's just because I love these stories so much. I think I mentioned that I've read the whole book before, but it has been quite a few years.

When I was a girl and had to fill out forms, the address line always said 'town.' Now it says 'city.' More people live in cities than ever. I wonder how many towns there still are in this country. What I know is that people who choose to live in my area, do so because they love it. The jobs are not high paying. Many people work two or three jobs, and almost every two-parent family has both parents working outside the home. But we love our mountains and our air. We are even sort of proud of our winters. We're rooted to this land. And this may be why I'm so drawn to the writings of Rosamunde Pilcher. Her people are one with their surroundings - the lochs or the sea, the hills or the beaches. Wherever the books are set, you know that her characters are where they belong. In this story, young Jenny Fairburn loves her homeplace so much that her mother had to talk her into going to Edinburgh to take some courses, and when they are done, she comes right back home. And when she was younger and at boarding school, she was so miserable that her friend Fergus Fenton 'persuaded her parents that Jenny would do just as well, and be a thousand times happier, at the local Creagan High School.'

And Fergus, who is six years older, also taught her to fish. The title comes from the words Fergus would say:
"Too still for fish. We'll need to whistle for the wind."
Now Fergus has become engaged to a television actress, and bought a flat in London.
What could you do about a man who had been part of your life since you were a little girl ... and finally turned out to be - she knew - the only man she could ever love?
When his fiancée, Rose asks Jenny,
"you've always lived here?"
"Born and bred. I even went to school here. I was in Edinburgh for the winter but it's heaven to be back."
To which Rose replies, "but you can't stay here for always."

If you've ever read even one Rosamunde Pilcher book you know that Rose is wrong. Jenny is as much a part of the land as her beloved river. There is some conflict in the story, but the reader is very sure it will all work out in a most satisfactory way, and it does.

A lovely, calming, uplifting story. I loved it.


  1. Oh - I have so much to say to this post!

    First - I LOVE the idea of reading a short story each Wednesday and look forward to hearing about yours monthly.

    Second, your mention of people working 2 or 3 jobs is so right on: in the city, no one would ever admit that they had more than one job or business - and business was always "great"; here in the rurals, it's just a fact of life and you do what you need to do, and no pretense about it.

    Third, I haven't read a Rosamunde Pilcher in YEARS - since before we left the city. I remember that she wasn't exactly what I needed before, but country living has changed me and I think she might be EXACTLY suited now. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. OH - and P.S.: I'm almost literally itching to get my hands on some of those books. Thanks for including the shot of your shelf.

  3. I enjoy your Short Story Wednesdays, Nan, and how your pride of place always comes through. Your posts so often evoke your love of the land you live on, the home you live in, the books you read. I truly enjoyed this post . . .

    . . . and, I truly enjoyed your recipe for the one pan butter cake, which I made about three o'clock this afternoon and we both enjoyed after dinner. I've printed it and put it in my recipe file. Much appreciation.

  4. such an interesting observation - that forms now say "city" instead of "town" ... you'd make a good sleuth :)

    I like how you've separated your short fiction on the shelves.

  5. Aren't her stories lovely feel good reads Nan,not too sweet I think The Blue bedroom and other stories is my favourite or perhaps just I'm most familiar with that one :0)

  6. Rosamunde Pilcher...that's a new name to me. I loved reading this review. For some reason I was reminded of L M Montgomery. I love reading her stories because they calm me. Not much happens, but there's so much of beauty in her descriptions of the land.

    However, I'm a city girl - born and bred. Yet, I understand what it means to always want to be home. I know I'd always come back to my city IF I ever left it!:D

    I should look out for this writer. I think, from your comments, I might like to read a story or two at least.

  7. I've been in a bit of a reading slump this past week, so maybe I'll turn to some short stories. Unlike you, I prefer Pilcher's novels to her shorter works simply because I hate to leave her characters so quickly, but it's been a while since I've read any of her short stories. I think I'll try again and see if I've changed my mind. :)

  8. I feel exactly the same way about Wednesday short stories. I find myself looking forward to each Wednesday and planning what I'm going to read, and I've even re-arranged my shelves and bought some new volumes of short stories too.

    I love Rosamunde Pilcher, and started this month with one of her novels - September. I haven't read any of her short stories but now I really want to!

  9. I've learnt about so many new-to-me writers from you. Nice review. Makes me want to read this story.

  10. I didn't know Rosamunde Pilcher had short stories published. I love her writing. Thanks for posting.

  11. Debbie, there are lots of other short stories in the tab under the blog header photo, if you are interested. That is so interesting that people wouldn't admit they had money troubles. I love your word 'rurals.'

    Thanks, Penny. And my daughter just told me how much they loved it down at her house, too. Guess I'll have to make it again soon. :<)

    Dawn, you think so? :<) I like having all the stories in one place. I've ordered the Beekman boys dvd, and I'll get the books when I've caught up with some of mine.

    Val, I've just ordered it. Thank you for the suggestion!

    Risa, that's it! The idea of living where one belongs. It doesn't matter where it is, as long as it is right for that person. Rosamunde Pilcher's work is very special.

    Les, and that just may be why I like the short stories better. The yucky characters are gone quickly. I could have used a lot less of Penelope's children. :<)

    Sophia, that's so great. I love this activity, and I like getting to know the others who participate. I hope more and more people join in. I should sit down and reread The Shell Seekers and September, one right after the other.

    Che, that so pleases me.

    Ann, did you see Val's comment? There is another book of short stories, and I've just ordered it.

  12. I'm off to find my dusty copy to re-read it, sometimes Rosamund P. really hits the spot doesn't she?
    Just finished A Summer Birdcage, the Margaret Drabble you blogged about a while ago. It must be 40 years since I read it. Interesting to re-read it now, really told me more about myself, then and now than anything else, the story is dated, but then, I probably am too!!

  13. Carole, my copy of Summer Birdcage is on its way. I will email you after I've read it, and we can compare notes. I smiled when I read your comment about it.

  14. I really love the idea of reading a short story a week! I've never read Rosamunde Pilcher before, although I've seen her books. Your description of her writing is so lovely - I will have to add her to my to-read list.

  15. I first "discovered" Rosamund Pilcher through her stories in magazines. Then I fell in love with her books. I'm so glad to hear her stories have been preserved in a short story collection. She definitely is a feel-good writer.

  16. Belle Wong, you know what's amazing to me? In the not-so-distant past, Rosamunde Pilcher's name was everywhere, and even if you didn't read her, you knew about her, even younger people. But now, with no book since 2000's Winter Solstice, she's not known much except by those who 'met' her years ago.

    Margot, I was amazed to know she was published in magazines -just like Gladys Taber! Is there fiction in those sorts of mags anymore?? She is 'feel good' but she also offers some tough situations. I keep mentioning those children of Penelope's! And the grief of the poor man in Winter Solstice. She doesn't skirt over the bad things in life, does she?

  17. I've been catching up with your posts and realized its been some time since I re-read Rosmunde Pilcher's short stories--I have two volumes of them.
    This is a perfect evening to bring out one of the books and settle in the rocking chair with a mug of tea.
    Thank you for reminding me!

  18. Morning's Minion, I need to catch up with you, too! Just like 'real' life, isn't it? I just ordered the second book of her stories. I so love this woman's writing. Thanks for coming by.


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