A Luminous Journey into Wisdom and Love










A▪R▪K BOOKS - 2008 - $22.00 - 400 pages

Paperback - ISBN 978-1-60702-057-8


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On the first day of a family ski vacation, Caroline is introduced to Lorenzo, a handsome philosophy student from Florence by her friend Sylvia. Dancing at a disco into the evening, they miss the last ski lift to their chalets, and, unwisely, ascend on foot, losing their way in a blinding blizzard and nearly die of exposure. Her frantic parents react by grounding Caroline, but sneaking out to look for her lost ski, she descends into a deep gully and enters a mysterious world that changes her life forever. The everyday world of stressed-out, argumentative parents, demanding friends, ski classes and holiday cheer gives way to a new reality where Caroline discovers who she really is and what life truly means – the kind of things she’d never heard of in school.

Armed with new clarity and stillness in the midst of powerful feelings, she returns to school, where unexpected challenges test her new-found knowledge, understanding and intuitive powers. Full of mystery, adventure, crisis and romance, this novel for teen and adult readers offers the added dimension of providing a thoughtful, reflective, and non-dogmatic guide to a meaningful, self-reliant and conscious life.

*** Winner of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award, and Finalist in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year competition and an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Quarterfinals Award ***





"Winter Break, on one level, is a classic coming-of-age story. The heroine undergoes a series of trials which form her character. But Fitzgerald sets the bar higher, moving from the ethical to the metaphysical. Her novel investigates a much-neglected facet of adolescence – an appetite for the spiritual and an openness to it. Fast-paced, suspenseful and inspiring, Winter Break is the perfect mix of entertainment and instruction." – Ann Arensberg, author of Incubus and Sister Wolf


"This book is written in such a way that each scene becomes memorable – the stunning descriptions of the snowy slopes of Switzerland, a love story sensitively told, and clear spiritual insights. Winter Break is a pleasure to read and a reminder that there is a way of living and being open to young people that is not only different from what is often practiced but is also life-enhancing and ultimately joyful." – Katharine Le Mée, author of Chant: The Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian Chant and The Benedictine Gift to Music


"Winter Break is a captivating, mystical tale that will appeal to readers of all ages. Fitzgerald deftly makes even the most sophisticated spiritual mysteries accessible to seekers of every level. But if what you're seeking is simply a great story, you've found it! A delight! Enjoy. – Deborah Medenbach, writer/yoga teacher





A novel that’ll keep readers reading all the way through * * * * *

Some people just relax at home for their winter break. Not Caroline Stillhart. "Winter Break: A Luminous Journey into Wisdom and Love" tells Caroline's story when she finds an old wise woman during her trip into the Swiss Alps. As she finds the keys to her soul, she also stumbles upon the keys to her heart, but while this seems like a successful trip, it isn't going to be an easy one. "Winter Break" is a novel that'll keep readers reading all the way through. – Midwest Book Review, January 7, 2009


Readers Reviews posted on online booksellers


Review - - September, 2009 - Coming of age is spiritual * * * * *

Finally, a novel that not only offers an exciting plot line, an endearing heroine, and human relationships that are believable and sympathetic but also introduces a continuous thread of spiritual teaching that informs and advances the plot - a teaching about love, compassion and healing. Through the author's deft writing we watch the characters grow and change within the light of Caroline's mystical experience. Anyone at any age will enjoy this story because it is essentially about who we are and the joy of discovering our true identity. At the same time the author captures the enthusiasm and idealism of youth, without which our world could not evolve. - Lyla Yastion, author of Pause Now: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution


Review - Barnes & - A great story about a young woman learning how to understand, and deal with, the realities of life. There are vibrant characters and plenty of action from start to finish. It's easy to sit back and enjoy the plot, but be prepared to also think a lot while you're reading. Even if you thought you already knew what life is all about, you'll probably discover a dozen (or a hundred?) things you had missed – Anonymous


Review - Barnes& - A Luminous story * * * * *

I loved this book. As a girl trying to find my way in a confusing world, I found the story very personal. Even though I don’t ski or haven’t been to Switzerland, I found the character of Caroline very close to me. But what made the book for me was Luma, the mysterious figure – a sort of Earth Mother – who gave Caroline the way to lead a useful life and to be successful in her life. I recommend this book for any young person trying to be useful and happy. – Juliehand, January, 2009


Review -  Beautiful book, perhaps life - changing *****

By Valiant on September 13, 2012

I am so glad I found my way to buying this book and reading it. It is an adventure, and one that is filled with the kind of wisdom that is gentle, but satisfying. There is a decidedly eastern philosophy woven into the text by the sure hand of this writer. For example, in this line from the book, "When human beings look about them at the visible world, they take it to be the only reality, and live as if matter were the only thing to be regarded." That is a perspective I admire and never get tired of hearing more about. In this lovely book we are not only taken on an adventure, we are taken on a journey of the mind, to places that are both comforting, sad and triumphant. It is what a good book should be, transporting you and leaving you feeling intellectually satisfied. Highly recommended.


Review - - Here is how to learn about life * * * * *

This is a terrific tale of love and spirituality, with delightfully drawn characters and a lot of awesome action. Plan on taking your time reading Winter Break -- since there's so much to digest, you'll want to think deeply about every chapter before continuing on to the next. Definitely a book for those who want to know the meaning of life, and the glories of human relationships. – Robert Garrett


Review - - A wonderful book about finding happiness in wisdom and love * * * * *

I read Astrid Fitzgerald's latest work "Winter Break, A Luminous Journey into Wisdom and Love" in two days, what a page turner. Ms. Fitzgerald has written so convincingly of a young girl's overcoming barriers of convention and prejudice, and finding happiness in wisdom and love. And all of this in her beautiful Swiss mountains. As if she'd written of her own life. A wonderful book, which I can recommend to young and old. -- Karl Maenz, April, 2009


Review - - Ein faszinierender Roman, der in der Schweiz spielt - spannend, inspirierend und lehrreich. Ein Meisterwerk mit vielen Facetten, das zugleich Unterhaltung und spirituelle Einsichten vermittelt. -- Rosemarie Schirmer



What readers say about Winter Break

"Winter Break is a lovely book! I didn't realize it's a coming of age story aimed at young people, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it thoroughly. I can see you used your own love of the Swiss mountains to write convincingly about Caroline's adventure. You got your philosophical ideas across in a natural, non-preachy way. We all need a Luma in our lives! Congratulations on being a fine writer as well as a talented painter!" – Dixie Peaslee, artist

"Similar to my reading Being Consciousness Bliss, Winter Break found its way into my days and nights – bringing an interest – bringing a current of energy, in fact, that was not there before reading it. I want to send it out to all the young people in the world." – Susan Lipsey, LMT Jin Shin Jyutsu Practitioner


"I think the story is terrific. I loved it. I think it'll become a classic. It's unlike anything else I've ever read. I haven't ever met anybody like Lorenzo, but I wish I would."  – Katie, age 14


"I rarely read fiction but found that I couldn't put this down! The love story is very tender and kept me pulled in. I really liked the way Caroline kept remembering to calm and center herself, something which can readily be grasped and tried by readers. I thought the whole Lycée piece on standing up to dogmatism was wonderful." – Claire Norris, highschool teacher


"I just finished Winter Break and I must say that I really loved it. I didn't want it to end. Caroline is just the girl I have always wanted to be. I wish I'd had this book when I was seventeen.. . . I can easily imagine her having a wonderful influence on young women who read her story. Also, I learned a lot! I will try to hold on to some of Luma's teachings . . . " – Priscilla Derven, painter


I have finished the book and must say that I was very sorry when the novel ended, although the moment was optimal - but then I missed going on reading it. I got so used to accompany Caroline in her adventures, I could have gone on forever . . . And now I just want to thank you for the great pleasure and also the inspiration you provided me with your wonderful novel. It really is a great gift and I hope that many young people, but also their parents - well, as many people as possible will be fortunate to find and read "Winter Break" – Rosemarie Schirmer, Switzerland


"Wonderful sense of place. Beautiful description. I enjoyed this story very much. Caroline's lessons were my own. I enjoyed the way Luma's words permeated my own existence. A heartwarming novel of spiritual awareness and self discovery . . . " – Alison K. Abbruzzi, highschool teacher


I sadly came to the end of Winter Break. What an engaging, wonderful story and a great read.  I truly hope this will especially get into the hands of many teenage girls.  It would make a great movie too. It went along so nicely with my daily meditations -- I felt a very strong Shakti. -- Hanna Weare, MA, LMT


Etwas skeptisch begann ich mit der Lektüre von Winter Break, dem ersten Roman meiner Schwester. Die Skepsis wich schnell Verblüffung, denn die Geschichte ist gut geschrieben und spannend erzählt, die Hintergrundinformationen seriös recherchiert. Bei diesem absolut professionellen Werk gibt es nichts zu meckern, sogar als Bruder wehrt man sich vergeblich gegen aufkommende Bewunderung, deren Zugeständnis im (typisch schweizerischen) Kommentar "not bad at all" gipfelt. – Kurt Hürlimann,


. . . not surprising that Astrid Fitzgerald, author of two books of collected spiritual wisdom from the great sages, now enfolds this knowledge in a very readable novel that broadens her audience beyond the mystical seeker. "Winter Break" is a compelling love story set in the romantic Swiss Alps. These two factors conjoin to make a magical page-turner with a rich and deeper message beyond the ordinary romance genre. -- Beverly Russell, author, educator



Excerpts from Winter Break - click here


Winter Break Press Release - click here



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