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The Shell Seekers

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The Shell Seekers PDF, ePub eBook Artist's daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children - and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers th Artist's daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children - and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father's painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.

30 review for The Shell Seekers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    There's something about this book that always makes me resolve to move to Cornwall, bake lots of bread and have an enormous flower garden, and spend the rest of my days painting huge swathes of light on the beaches. That aside, this is one book that I regularly read every six months and love each time. I don't know how to describe it. Just go read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    "The most ordinary of prospects caused her to stop and stare. The last of the leaves dropped from the trees, and the bare branches made lace against pale skies. Sun after rain turned cobbled streets blue as fish scales, dazzling to the eye. Autumn winds, whipping the bay to a scud of white-caps, brought with them, not cold, but a surging sense of vitality…" Penelope Keeling knows how to live life to the fullest and I absolutely adore her! She grasps those things that matter most in life – the com "The most ordinary of prospects caused her to stop and stare. The last of the leaves dropped from the trees, and the bare branches made lace against pale skies. Sun after rain turned cobbled streets blue as fish scales, dazzling to the eye. Autumn winds, whipping the bay to a scud of white-caps, brought with them, not cold, but a surging sense of vitality…" Penelope Keeling knows how to live life to the fullest and I absolutely adore her! She grasps those things that matter most in life – the comfort of a home, the security of a loving mother, the laughter of friends and family, the feel of soil and the beauty of the outdoors, the enticing smells of home-cooked meals, and the allure of a splendid painting. When I come across a character in one of my books that touches me and makes me want to re-examine my own life, then I know I have found a gem. Of course, we’re all familiar with the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of that offense in the past and no less so with this book. I have seen Rosamunde Pilcher’s novels in bookstores and libraries and have admittedly walked right on by due to their overly feminine and botanic covers. I didn’t think they were "my sort of book". However, I decided to give this one a try when I discovered some trusted Goodreads friends were reading this. Well, thank goodness I did – such a true delight! At the outset, we learn that Penelope is a sixty-four-year old widow that has had a surprise glimpse at her own mortality. We are introduced to her three adult children – Nancy, Olivia and Noel - as well as others that have touched her life at some point or another – her treasured mother and father, an ill-suited husband, a loyal friend, a devoted lover, a grieving young woman and a secretive yet trustworthy gardener. Each character is drawn with such depth and clarity that I felt I really knew each and every one of them. The title of this novel, The Shell Seekers, derives from a painting given to Penelope by her father, the prominent artist Lawrence Stern. When the now deceased Lawrence Stern’s works of art become much sought-after, the value of this and other pieces increases significantly. Each of Penelope’s children have their own thoughts about what should be done with this and other works in their mother’s possession. What they desire reveals to us much about each of them, their innermost substance. As with real people, what we see is not all pretty. Pilcher has the gift of depicting riveting family dynamics. "Family rows are like car accidents. Every family thinks, ‘It couldn’t happen to us,’ but it can happen to everybody. The only way to avoid them is to drive with the greatest care and have much consideration for others." Penelope makes a journey to Cornwall, both in spirit and literally, where she sweeps us along to revel in the landscape and her own cherished memories. I loved every minute of this visit and will miss my time spent with Penelope. Heart-warming, memorable, and a bit of a tear-jerker, The Shell Seekers is a treasure I won’t soon forget. I am quite pleased that several more Rosamunde Pilcher novels now grace my bookshelf with their blossoming covers and their promise of comfort and pure reading satisfaction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    “She believed, of course ... because without something to believe in, life would be intolerable.” Rosamunde Pilcher The Shell Seekers I definitely was not excited to read THE SHELL SEEKERS. My mother had chosen it for her book club; telling us all it was one of her favorite books of all time. I foolishly viewed this as a woman's book, no, an old woman's book. How wrong I was. I absolutely loved THE SHELL SEEKERS. My only regret is that I hadn't visited the worlds created by Rosamunde Pilcher soone “She believed, of course ... because without something to believe in, life would be intolerable.” Rosamunde Pilcher The Shell Seekers I definitely was not excited to read THE SHELL SEEKERS. My mother had chosen it for her book club; telling us all it was one of her favorite books of all time. I foolishly viewed this as a woman's book, no, an old woman's book. How wrong I was. I absolutely loved THE SHELL SEEKERS. My only regret is that I hadn't visited the worlds created by Rosamunde Pilcher sooner. I was sucked into this world from the start. I loved Penelope from the opening paragraph, and loved how her story progressed. I also loved that this story was told in nonlinear fashion, and each chapter focused on a character who moved through Penelope's life. And yet, this is Penelope Keeling’s story from start to finish ~~ even when she is not present. Penelope is a stylish, elegant woman even in her well-worn, often shabby clothes. Her generosity, hard work, joie de vivre, understanding, and caring for others never seems to falter. Penelope shines like a golden thread in the tapestry of her life and the lives of others. She loves unconditionally, rises above mistakes ~~ both hers and those of others; she makes do with what life has given her. Penelope's philosophy is that money buys, not just material things, but it also buys freedom, independence, dignity, learning, and time. As she ages, she comes to believe that the greatest gift a parent can give the children is to maintain one’s independence, be self-reliant, and not witless ~~ a lesson she learned from her father. As we journey with Penelope we view her life through both the best of times, and the difficult times. Through it all, we witness what a strong, caring woman, wonderful woman she is. We experience Penelope's life in Cornwall, growing up her artist father and her French mother Sophie, We come to know the village and her people; we meet Doris and her two sons, evacuees of WWII. Later, we visit London and Spain through Penelope's eyes. We see Penelope as she experiencing living in her daughter Olivia's world and meet her friends Cosmo and Antonia. We become absorbed in the never-ending conflicts of her other two children, Nancy and Noel. In her old age we experience the wonderful gift Antonia and her young friend Danus bring to her. Penelope's story reveals so much of human nature, of who we are. The Shell Seekers has charms all its own, and you definitely should experience these charms.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I seldom find myself blubbering over a book anymore. I used to do it when I was younger, but my insides seem to have toughened as I have aged. My sentimental side is harder to access, and even when a book evokes strong feelings I do not really cry. Well, Pilcher put the lie to that today. I cried like I was 15 again, felt foolish doing it, and felt clean and empty afterward. OK, maybe I was just needing a good cry. It happens. But, there was something very touching in the way Pilcher presented th I seldom find myself blubbering over a book anymore. I used to do it when I was younger, but my insides seem to have toughened as I have aged. My sentimental side is harder to access, and even when a book evokes strong feelings I do not really cry. Well, Pilcher put the lie to that today. I cried like I was 15 again, felt foolish doing it, and felt clean and empty afterward. OK, maybe I was just needing a good cry. It happens. But, there was something very touching in the way Pilcher presented this story; a truthfulness that made it special. It was a re-read, but goodness knows almost thirty years between reads made it brand new in many ways. I thought of my own mother when I read these lines: "Yes, she was lovely. But more than that, she was warm and funny and loving. Hot-tempered one moment, and laughing the next. And she could make a home anywhere. She carried a sort of security about with her. I can't think of a single person who didn't love her. I still think about her every day of my life. Sometimes she seems very dead. And other times, I can't believe that she isn't somewhere in the house and that a door won't open and she'll be there." For me, she nailed what it is to lose someone you truly love. And this passage that might be best understood by someone my own age, and yet I know I must have understood it even when I was so young, reading this for the first time: "A ring was the accepted sign of infinity, eternity. If her own life was that carefully described pencil line, she knew all at once that the two ends were drawing close together. I have come full circle, she told herself, and wondered what had happened to all the years. It was a question which, from time to time, caused her some anxiety and left her fretting with a dreadful sense of waste. But now, it seemed, the question had become irrelevant, and so the answer, whatever it was, was no longer of any importance." Rosamunde Pilcher must have loved deeply, lost someone very close, known greedy and intemperate people, turned the earth in her own garden, shared meals with irreplaceable friends, and embraced a few kindred spirits in her day. She knows all those things too well to have made them up out of air. And, to some extent, that is what we all know of life. The details, the little things that make it bearable, the larger things that make it seems impossible to live through, these are the hallmarks of humanity. In the end, perhaps I cry not for the characters in a book but for myself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    3.5 Stars A beautifully written character driven novel about family and life, love and loss, greed and hope, a book that has the charm and eloquence of books from a bygone era, just a good old fashioned family saga, a story with real characters and places that are interesting and vivid. I had never read a book by this author before and as a couple of Goodread friends have really enjoyed her novels and the fact I saw it on the BBC list of Top 100 books I just had to try one and I was in not dis 3.5 Stars A beautifully written character driven novel about family and life, love and loss, greed and hope, a book that has the charm and eloquence of books from a bygone era, just a good old fashioned family saga, a story with real characters and places that are interesting and vivid. I had never read a book by this author before and as a couple of Goodread friends have really enjoyed her novels and the fact I saw it on the BBC list of Top 100 books I just had to try one and I was in not disappointed by the story or the writing style as the characters and images in the novel are so well drawn with little details that bring a wonderful sense of time and place to the story which makes this novel so readable and enjoyable. This is the type of novel that while it didn't move me or have me on the edge of my seat, I loved picking it up and spending time with the characters and just enjoyed the good feeling it gave me. It would make a terrific holiday read or a book for cosy winter nights by the fire, It the sort of book I will remember reading 10 years from now and still be able to recall the characters. I did find the book a tad long but I am not a fan of long books anyhow but I am certainly looking forward to reading more by this author soon. I bought a paperback edition of this novel and delighted to place this one on my bookshelf for future re-reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mathew

    Rosamund Pilcher is consistently marketed via book jackets covered with flowers. I'm not sure why. On the surface, Pilcher's stories are nostalgic and evocative of magical other places where good things always happen to good people; but her novels and characters are consistently rich, complicated, and subtle. I've not read another author who could draw the infuriating imperfections and dysfunctions of family so accurately, or so compassionately. It's easy to admire, then almost despise, and then Rosamund Pilcher is consistently marketed via book jackets covered with flowers. I'm not sure why. On the surface, Pilcher's stories are nostalgic and evocative of magical other places where good things always happen to good people; but her novels and characters are consistently rich, complicated, and subtle. I've not read another author who could draw the infuriating imperfections and dysfunctions of family so accurately, or so compassionately. It's easy to admire, then almost despise, and then love her characters for being so very human. The Shell Seekers, like so many of Pilcher's stories, is set in England, told from the vantage of a menagerie of characters whose lives are bound together by various ties of kinship and obligation. At first, one is content to get to know the cast as their various stories unfold, but little by little the pieces - and the people - come together, and by the end one realizes how incredibly tight this novel is. It's the sort of novel that restores faith in life, and in fiction.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Margitte

    From the blurb: "Set in London and Cornwall from World War II to present(1983), The Shell Seekers tells the story of the Keeling family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The family centers around Penelope, and it is her love, courage, and sense of values that determine the course of all their lives. Deftly shifting back and forth in time, each chapter centers on one of the principal players in the family's history. The unifying thread is an o From the blurb: "Set in London and Cornwall from World War II to present(1983), The Shell Seekers tells the story of the Keeling family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The family centers around Penelope, and it is her love, courage, and sense of values that determine the course of all their lives. Deftly shifting back and forth in time, each chapter centers on one of the principal players in the family's history. The unifying thread is an oil painting entitled "The Shell Seekers," done by Penelope's father. It is this painting that symbolizes to Penelope the ties between the generations. But it is the fate of this painting that just may tear the family apart. "Family rows are like car accidents. Every family thinks, ‘It couldn’t happen to us', but it can happen to everybody. The only way to avoid them is to drive with the greatest care and have much consideration for others." MY THOUGHTS I don't really want to write a review for this book, since it touched me so deeply, and I found such a connection with Penelope, that I would rather have talked about the bond of friendship we have formed! I almost felt like sitting down and write her a letter. It felt that personal. In that spirit I can only conclude that it was a tremendous moment when I started reading this book by Rosamunde Pilcher. It was like opening the door to a very familiar home. Meave Binchy had this effect on me. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher was my introduction to this author, and it was a unforgettably good experience. Perhaps you never completely grew up until your mother died Family saga; a story of a courageous woman; a compassionate tale of hardship and wonder; the making of a family; the bonds of blood and destiny. It's all there and written in tasteful and beautiful prose. We always talk about a light read to indicate the tone of a book. In this case it will have to be described as a medium read, since the horrors of war form part of the saga, but not as brutal and devastating as the violent counterparts by other authors. The book shows another side of WWII than the one we would normally encounter in historical fiction. A cup full of colorful petals is heaped onto an otherwise mono-colored part of history. Recommended to family saga-readers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is one of my favorite books of all time, but I'd be hard-pressed to explain why. The criticisms of this book are true enough--semi-cliched characters and all--but I just love them. I love Penelope and this book makes me want to garden and cook soup and let everyone be themselves even if they're stuffy and stodgy or not at all in fashion. I love that her personal life is real, as in far from perfect--her societally correct husband was miserable and her true love wasn't allowed. I love that A This is one of my favorite books of all time, but I'd be hard-pressed to explain why. The criticisms of this book are true enough--semi-cliched characters and all--but I just love them. I love Penelope and this book makes me want to garden and cook soup and let everyone be themselves even if they're stuffy and stodgy or not at all in fashion. I love that her personal life is real, as in far from perfect--her societally correct husband was miserable and her true love wasn't allowed. I love that Antonia happens into Penelope's life and becomes inextricably linked and a better 'granddaughter' than her biological grandkids. One of my favorite lines is towards the end where it is said "Penelope may not believe in God, but I am quite sure that God believes in her..." This is a curl up in a chair with a mug of tea, blanket and wallow in the familiarity of it all kind of book. I have read other Rosamunde Pilcher novels, and none of them had this same effect on me. There's just something about this story....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    An older woman looks back on her life, thinks about her family, and tries to decide what to do with a valuable painting that she's inherited from her father, an artist. I read this back in the day and honestly don't remember any of the details, but I do remember enjoying this read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    From its supermarket cover (have you seen it? It felt embarrassing to have such a romantically embossed book in my hands) to its one-dimensional characters, the entire book reminded me of a heavyweight beach read. So....what should get a "nice summer read" review instead trips me up for weeks, unable to write anything about this book and a dozen others because I'm forced to question my reasoning. Why do I feel so bad about being critical of this book? Mostly, I think it's because many friends an From its supermarket cover (have you seen it? It felt embarrassing to have such a romantically embossed book in my hands) to its one-dimensional characters, the entire book reminded me of a heavyweight beach read. So....what should get a "nice summer read" review instead trips me up for weeks, unable to write anything about this book and a dozen others because I'm forced to question my reasoning. Why do I feel so bad about being critical of this book? Mostly, I think it's because many friends and readers I know love this book. But, I also think my stupor of thought is a result of a former self once being able to love this book. My tastes have changed. It's frustrating, because I think the themes Pilcher wrote about are serious enough to do well. Inheritance, greed, sentimentality, playing favorites with children, staying in a loveless marriage, putting a relationship that never fully developed on a pedestal because it escaped the inevitable boredom, irritation, and complacency that all relationships eventually go through. These are things you don't usually find underneath a flowery cover. Overall, The Shell Seekers didn't feel wholly honest to me. The situations did have a semblance of reality. I imagine most of us would have some serious introspection if we discovered a piece of art we owned was suddenly very valuable, especially any art we owned that was created by a beloved relative. However, the characters, written as people who you should like (Penelope, Olivia, Richard), or who you should not like (Nancy, Neil, horrible grandmother and husband whose names I can't remember) didn't have motives - or at least any that I understood. It appears to me that Pilcher confused having the coveted flawed character with having bad characters. Just because a character makes bad choices shouldn't make them bad. I wanted to know why Nancy and Neil cared more about money than their grandfather's painting. Was Neil a gambler and in debt and needed cash? Did Nancy think her marriage would fall apart if she didn't continue to be the lavish bride that her grandmother turned her into? Why in the world would Penelope stay in her never-should-have-happened-marriage when the author has done her best to describe her as a free-spirit, raised by an athiest father and French mother who both could have cared less if she married the father of her baby or took a lover while her husband (who she hoped would either die or leave her for someone else) was at war, who placed a nontraditional value to things (wasn't that the point of the the symbolic painting? Most people would care to know how much it was worth. But not Penelope, who would rather garden and feed people large meals)? Why were Neil and Nancy so shallow and greedy? Because they were genetically like their father and grandmother (who were also inexplicably bad)? Why did Olivia get such a free pass from her mother? Why did we have to invest so much time with her in Greece with her old and linen-clad lover (who I kept imaging as Kris Kristofferson. Odd)? Was I supposed to really care about her gardener's epilepsy? So many more questions that have no satisfying answers because, once again, I don't think this is meant as a serious book. In which case, I'm being snobby and critical. Or it was meant as a serious book and I'm being picky and callous. Or snobby and critical. Take your pick. Oh my...this is such a bad book review. For the confused, I'll tidy things up. I enjoyed the book. I'm disappointed it wasn't more. And that worries me. Because that means I'm a book snob Oh....curse you, Shell Seekers! Why did I ever open your abysmal cover with flowers and shiny typeface? Why? Because there's a well known saying about books and their covers. And I fell for it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    You really can't judge a book by its cover. People have recommended Rosamunde Pilcher's books to me for years, and I refused to read them because all the covers looked like they had been marinated in mothballs. But after spying "The Shell Seekers" on the BBC's "The Big Read: Top 100 Books," I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Annoyingly, several people had put it on reserve at the library before me, so by the time I received it, I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as I had been when I had You really can't judge a book by its cover. People have recommended Rosamunde Pilcher's books to me for years, and I refused to read them because all the covers looked like they had been marinated in mothballs. But after spying "The Shell Seekers" on the BBC's "The Big Read: Top 100 Books," I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Annoyingly, several people had put it on reserve at the library before me, so by the time I received it, I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as I had been when I had originally ordered it. To add insult to injury, my copy had a cover that resembled a fussy spinster's guest room wallpaper. I literally had to fight the urge to hide the book under my jacket, lest one of my hipster friends caught sight of me leaving the building with it. But then I opened the front cover and started to read. And was captivated by the first sentence. And the second. By the time I had reached the last page, I was head over heels in love with this book. If you're smart enough to overlook a stupid looking cover for the sake of a great read, pick up this book. You won't be sorry.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003. I'm not a huge fan of genreless fiction, not in the least when it has a strong romance-vibe, but I found The Shell Seekers to be a pleasant read. It was not at all taxing and can be described as escapist literature, and requires not an awful lot of mental agility to get through, but that was part of its charm. The best thing about the book was how splendidly well it was written. I wasn't hugely captiv Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003. I'm not a huge fan of genreless fiction, not in the least when it has a strong romance-vibe, but I found The Shell Seekers to be a pleasant read. It was not at all taxing and can be described as escapist literature, and requires not an awful lot of mental agility to get through, but that was part of its charm. The best thing about the book was how splendidly well it was written. I wasn't hugely captivated by the plot, in fact, I thought it was rather weak and there were about 200 superfluous pages, with some extremely tedious moments during the mid-way section that meant I had to put it down for a few days and return to after a short break; having said that, it was a lovely journey to go on and I found myself transported to the wonderful places that the characters inhabited. Speaking of which, I though Penelope was such a wonderful, breath-of-fresh-air character. It's a rare thing in books these days to have a wonderful, strong, independent older woman as a main character in any kind of medium (be it books, film or TV) and I enjoyed her immensely. The other characters were a little bit too background for me, though I enjoyed them as they were, and found they all fit in with each other well. It is not a book to change lives, it is simply something to read and enjoy. I did enjoy it, despite my misgivings, though it won't be read again, nor perhaps will it be much thought of ever. But I thoroughly enjoyed reading something that was so well-written and just lovely to get around to. Blog | Instagram

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abeer Hoque

    I thought this book would be better for all its NYT Book Review (and other) praise, but it wasn't. Ostensibly a sprawling family saga centring around matriarch Penelope, it's basically the same 2 or 3 characters with different names playing out over three generations. If you're a "good" character, then you're independent, stubborn, glossy haired, tall, beautiful. You love France, holiday in Spain, dream of Cornwall, and believe in children out of wedlock and monied bohemian lifestyles (but not t I thought this book would be better for all its NYT Book Review (and other) praise, but it wasn't. Ostensibly a sprawling family saga centring around matriarch Penelope, it's basically the same 2 or 3 characters with different names playing out over three generations. If you're a "good" character, then you're independent, stubborn, glossy haired, tall, beautiful. You love France, holiday in Spain, dream of Cornwall, and believe in children out of wedlock and monied bohemian lifestyles (but not too monied, nor do you care too much about cashola, but it doesn't matter because it will come pouring down in the hundreds of thousands anyway). You know and namedrop all the same (white) (western) painters and authors. You joined the war effort due to the "cultured refugee faced" (I kid you not) Jews who rent rooms in your massive inherited London mansion. You are or love gardeners or artists or offspring of artists. You have a 50% chance of dying in the great war. If you're a "bad" character, you endlessly harp on class and money and other selfish concerns. You have no interest in intimacy or art or any higher calling than social climbing and your awful ugly children and awful ugly spouse or your anorexic supermodel lover of the mo. You are either ugly and empty or beautiful and empty. You hate gardeners. Everyone, regardless of integrity or intention, wants a scotch and soda. So why did I plow through 500+ pages of this? And even tear up at moments? Because the idea of lives fully lived is a powerful one and Ms. Pilcher tells a well paced story, even if it is written in a hackneyed trashy romance style. Certainly it wasn't hard to blow through, and it was sort of fun watching all the foils of the story unfold in mediocrity. I left my copy in Newark Airport on top of the recycling bin for someone else to take it up or pitch it in.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I did not review books at this stage. In fact, this book lead me to Goodreads for the first time ever. I remember Googling this book from the car on the way home from summer holidays, and ultimately I discovered this wonderful site that way. This is the first read from this author, I remember enjoying it immensely and then borrowed a bunch from my mum. After signing up here, of course!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Yes, I have to add agreement. She wrote with such compassion without a hint of the maudlin. Her books were like rich soothing chocolate - perfect for blooming a centered core of caring/ peaceful contemplation. And they never enabled trouble or dysfunction, but seemed to disarm it at the source. The flowers on the bookcovers I understand. Graphics of her gardens. Her characters often centered themselves in gardening and her plant depth (knowledge of form and placements) was phenomenal.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susu

    I read this years ago when I lived in Seattle. I still remember it. A plot that one remembers for 20 years speaks a lot for a novel.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid

    I remember reading this book in one sitting in the nineties, and what a sitting it was! My husband had business meetings in Basingstoke and I had joined him. It was May, nice weather, so I chose a bench in the park and started reading. Of course I walked around the centre and had lunch but for the rest of the time I just sat on that bench reading and had finished the book by the end of that day. I have read other books by her, but I've never enjoyed them as much. Now Ms. Pilcher has died on the I remember reading this book in one sitting in the nineties, and what a sitting it was! My husband had business meetings in Basingstoke and I had joined him. It was May, nice weather, so I chose a bench in the park and started reading. Of course I walked around the centre and had lunch but for the rest of the time I just sat on that bench reading and had finished the book by the end of that day. I have read other books by her, but I've never enjoyed them as much. Now Ms. Pilcher has died on the 6th of February and I have the feeling that I should read The shell seekers again as a tribute and to see if I'm still as carried away by it as I was then.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emma Rose Ribbons

    A wonderful, perfect reread. My heart is full. ---- This is one of those few times when I feel like Goodreads should have a regular star rating, and then a separate award for those Special Books. Those that take over your mind and soul. Those that somehow strike that perfect balance between cosy and haunting. The Shell Seekers is one such book. Rosamunde Pilcher is an author I've always meant to read, she's often mentioned in the same breath as comforting authors I love - Miss Read, Lucy Maud Mont A wonderful, perfect reread. My heart is full. ---- This is one of those few times when I feel like Goodreads should have a regular star rating, and then a separate award for those Special Books. Those that take over your mind and soul. Those that somehow strike that perfect balance between cosy and haunting. The Shell Seekers is one such book. Rosamunde Pilcher is an author I've always meant to read, she's often mentioned in the same breath as comforting authors I love - Miss Read, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Georgette Heyer, but it took me this long to pick up one of her novels. I chose The Shell Seekers based solely on the title - it's a beautiful evocation of summer, and what better time than the middle of a scorching July to think about seashells? It took me a while to finish it - not that it wasn't good, it was exceptional, but I wanted to really savour it. It's so beautiful. The writing is absolutely gorgeous. Every page I read gave me that wonderful sense of communion with the characters and the places described. They're part of my family now, of my own history. At its heart, it's a story about family and what makes an individual unique - their aspirations, their memories, their possessions. I loved this so much. It's got so much truth about life it's quite staggering. I felt like I constantly needed to reread passages and make them part of those I could recite on a whim. Gorgeous, gorgeous work. If all her novels are as striking, I'm in for a delicious treat.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mo

    I was at loose ends, not knowing what I felt like reading. I had a CRAZY busy week coming up and I knew I didn't want to waste what little time I had with a mediocre book. So I decided to scroll through my GR friend Sarah’s shelves, and see what she had rated 5 stars. My eye fell upon ‘The Shell Seekers’ and I remembered that our mutual friend Claude also had given it 5 stars. (Then a lightbulb went off over my head. They, along with another mutual friend Gita, had all recommended this book to m I was at loose ends, not knowing what I felt like reading. I had a CRAZY busy week coming up and I knew I didn't want to waste what little time I had with a mediocre book. So I decided to scroll through my GR friend Sarah’s shelves, and see what she had rated 5 stars. My eye fell upon ‘The Shell Seekers’ and I remembered that our mutual friend Claude also had given it 5 stars. (Then a lightbulb went off over my head. They, along with another mutual friend Gita, had all recommended this book to me a while ago, and I had forgotten all about it.) That was good enough for me! I cracked open the book and dug right in. I was hooked by the introduction alone. Rosamunde Pitcher was 60 years old when she wrote this book... her first novel of any real consequence or commercial success. SIXTY! It gives me hope :-)  As to the book… my friends did not steer me wrong. I loved it! I stayed up reading late each night, until my head started bobbing and I reluctantly had to close the book . I couldn’t wait to read it all, yet I couldn’t bear for it to end. A nice problem to have. Thanks Sarah, Claude and Gita!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    “She had loved them all, her children. Loved each one the best, but for different reasons. Love, she had found, had a strange way of multiplying.” Rosamunde Pilcher creates a full and mostly satisfying world here—a family saga heaped with descriptions of lovely gardens, splendid meals, the exotic beauty of Ibiza, and the tranquil coast of Cornwall. In her introduction, she writes that she intended The Shell Seekers to be “A big fat novel for women. ... Something, above all, that tapped into my li “She had loved them all, her children. Loved each one the best, but for different reasons. Love, she had found, had a strange way of multiplying.” Rosamunde Pilcher creates a full and mostly satisfying world here—a family saga heaped with descriptions of lovely gardens, splendid meals, the exotic beauty of Ibiza, and the tranquil coast of Cornwall. In her introduction, she writes that she intended The Shell Seekers to be “A big fat novel for women. ... Something, above all, that tapped into my life and the experiences of my generation.” On that level, it succeeds wonderfully. I agree with Melody that there were some editing hiccups—and with other reviewers who found certain characters one-dimensional. (The vicar’s theology was also troubling.) That said, there’s so much bathing in this novel—lots of “enormously hot and very deep” baths—that I found myself thinking these must be the cleanest characters in all of English literature. 3.5 stars

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    Feb 28 ~~ Beautiful, just beautiful. Proper review tomorrow. Mar 2 ~~ I used to see Pilcher's books everywhere: at the library, in used book sales, at garage sales. But I was never interested in them, simply because the covers always made me think they would not be my cup of tea. Considering the wide range of books I have always read, that seems like a funny thing to say, but there it is: I never stopped to look beyond the covers. Then a few years ago I saw a review by a GR friend of mine who had Feb 28 ~~ Beautiful, just beautiful. Proper review tomorrow. Mar 2 ~~ I used to see Pilcher's books everywhere: at the library, in used book sales, at garage sales. But I was never interested in them, simply because the covers always made me think they would not be my cup of tea. Considering the wide range of books I have always read, that seems like a funny thing to say, but there it is: I never stopped to look beyond the covers. Then a few years ago I saw a review by a GR friend of mine who had just read her first Pilcher, and it was this very book. She had pretty much the same story i had, about seeing the covers and thinking the books would not be for her. Then she read The Shell Seekers and wondered how she could have ignored this author for so many years. I said to myself 'Well, if Candi liked it, I'm sure I will too.' and I made a mental note to try at least this book someday. I was in Mexico at that time, so did not see any copies anywhere and didn't order any, thinking that I would find one or two someday while up here visiting. Then life took one its usual turns and here I am full time in Arizona again, and one of the first things I thought when i got a bit more settled was 'Off to the library to borrow a Pilcher!' And they did not have a single solitary copy of any of her books. Once I got over my shock (how could they have four shelves full of James Patterson and not even one title by Rosamunde Pilcher?!) I ordered The Shell Seekers and as soon as I could after it arrived I dove in, barely coming up for air at all during the whole process. I loved it! But I know I would not have appreciated it nearly as much if i had read it earlier in life, so the timing was perfect. Penelope, the delightful main character, is in her early sixties and with a dodgy heart. She has three children, only one of whom is anywhere close to decent and even she is not as awesome as her mom. The children all want to interfere and tell Mum how to live now that she is 'old and frail'. I became very protective of Penelope during my reading, and I worried that she would not see the reality behind the so-called concern. But Penelope was no fool; she was a wise woman with no illusions about her offspring and their characters. And she handled things wonderfully, right to the very end. I was captivated by the writing, by the effortless way Pilcher told her story, blending the past and the present and slowly presenting a special life, an unforgettable life. I cried at the end (and at a few other places here and there) and I felt as though I wanted to go back to page one and start all over again. Instead I went back to my favorite online used book seller and ordered another Pilcher. The heck with that silly budget! Forget about limited shelf space! I wanted more! Thanks again to GR friend Candi, who planted the Pilcher seed in my little pea brain. Looks like it will turn into quite a garden. LOL

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    I read this because it is one of my moms favorite authors/books and I wanted to be able to discuss it with her while she is still around. It was very enjoyable and amusing book about a family and the issues one has to deal with as a parent ages. The struggle between letting the parent be independent and still be safe is always a tough one. The thing I took away from this book was the importance of letting a person be who they are no matter their age and limitations. Penelope (the matriarch of th I read this because it is one of my moms favorite authors/books and I wanted to be able to discuss it with her while she is still around. It was very enjoyable and amusing book about a family and the issues one has to deal with as a parent ages. The struggle between letting the parent be independent and still be safe is always a tough one. The thing I took away from this book was the importance of letting a person be who they are no matter their age and limitations. Penelope (the matriarch of the family) is in the later years of her life. After a health scare she is coming face to face with her mortality. She reflects on her past along with taking a good look at the present and her 3 grown children who have not all turned out like she hoped they would. I became so entranced by this book that it was all I wanted to read. There are several surprises along the way and the book is filled with characters that are quite memorable. The descriptions of the feelings, the sights, the sounds the life of Penelope are wonderful…. I will definitely put this book on my "to re-read" list.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    This is one of my favourite books. It really is a magical story and Penelope is a character that stays with you long after you’ve finished the last page. Rosamunde Pilcher is a fantastic storyteller.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    Rosamunde Pilcher received a challenge from her publisher, Tom Dunne. He wanted her to write: "A big fat novel for women. A good read. Something to get the teeth into. And something, above all, that taps into your life and the experiences of your generation." She had never written such a book. All of her novels, previously, had taken no more than three months each to write. Ideas were floating about in her head. She came up with three themes: the lives of the upper-class Bohemians who had always Rosamunde Pilcher received a challenge from her publisher, Tom Dunne. He wanted her to write: "A big fat novel for women. A good read. Something to get the teeth into. And something, above all, that taps into your life and the experiences of your generation." She had never written such a book. All of her novels, previously, had taken no more than three months each to write. Ideas were floating about in her head. She came up with three themes: the lives of the upper-class Bohemians who had always had a place in the culture of England; the disastrous effect that the promise of a substantial inheritance can have on a family; and, a need to write about the days before WWII. Pilcher has risen to the task. She has crafted this beautiful story about the last days of Penelope Keeling. Keeling is the daughter of Lawrence Stern, a painter from the Victorian Era, whose paintings have lately come back into vogue, commanding huge prices at the auction houses. Penelope is a widow and has three children: the tiresome Nancy, the cool-headed Olivia, the materialistic Noel. The paintings of Lawrence Stern have everybody's attention. The plot not only highlights the life of Penelope but also fleshes out Olivia beautifully. Yes, I had to put up with the immaturity of Nancy and Noel, but the contrast allowed Penelope and Olivia to look all that much better. The book held my rapt attention throughout its 500+ pages. I highly recommend it for those who love to experience the ins and outs of family drama. 5 stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    ✨Susan✨

    I read this a million years ago. I still remember it being so good.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Wald

    Rosmund Pilcher is someone I discovered on holiday in Cyprus. I had finished reading all the books I had taken, and in the hotel there was a BIG book by here called Winter Solstice. Because I had nothing else to do I started to read it. the story is about a woman of 60, ex actress who is involved with a man, of a certain age, who has just lost his wealthy wife and only daughter. The woman takes him under her wings, and he is kicked out of his house by the step sons. the plot involves a house in Rosmund Pilcher is someone I discovered on holiday in Cyprus. I had finished reading all the books I had taken, and in the hotel there was a BIG book by here called Winter Solstice. Because I had nothing else to do I started to read it. the story is about a woman of 60, ex actress who is involved with a man, of a certain age, who has just lost his wealthy wife and only daughter. The woman takes him under her wings, and he is kicked out of his house by the step sons. the plot involves a house in Scotland where they go, different people in her family, an English man coming back from America. Most of the action is over a Christmas. It is fantastically written, again I would agree with one review that says 'Her books are food for the sou'. It is another book I can read over again and the characters have become like friends to me. My hightest praise is that I do care about these characters.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    Another book that I really enjoyed because of the characters - the main character, Penelope, in particular. The story is another of those sprawling family stories (in both time and space and characters), which in general, I enjoy very much, as long as they are skillfully told and executed. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgas Another book that I really enjoyed because of the characters - the main character, Penelope, in particular. The story is another of those sprawling family stories (in both time and space and characters), which in general, I enjoy very much, as long as they are skillfully told and executed. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    This lovely novel is so atmospheric you feel you're there; you can almost smell the flowers, feel the tang of the sea and see light glint off the water. My first reading of this book, so many years ago, instilled in me such an interest and a love for Cornwall that it remains today, while the well-written characters seem more to be real people than characters from a book. An old favorite that is still a wonderful pleasure to revisit. 4.5 stars instead of 5 simply because there are a few points in This lovely novel is so atmospheric you feel you're there; you can almost smell the flowers, feel the tang of the sea and see light glint off the water. My first reading of this book, so many years ago, instilled in me such an interest and a love for Cornwall that it remains today, while the well-written characters seem more to be real people than characters from a book. An old favorite that is still a wonderful pleasure to revisit. 4.5 stars instead of 5 simply because there are a few points in the story that I always think should have gone differently―but then real people seldom do everything you might hope.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    This novel was positively wonderful. I enjoyed every single page of it.

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