“All of it was good in every sense of the word. And in this life, nothing good is truly lost.”
–from The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
This is the second novel of Pilcher’s that I’ve read, the other being Winter Solstice. It’s a family saga with all of the dysfunctional family drama. In some ways it reminds me of Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants because war and what is going on in the world has an impact on the family in the story. But unlike Fall of Giants, you won’t have to worry about keeping a ton of characters straight in The Shell Seekers. In some spots it’s touching and throughout it’s definitely sentimental and while reading, I felt connected to the characters and I could see some of their personalities and characteristics in members of my own family.
The main character is Penelope Stern Keeling, daughter of an artist and a woman of a certain age. She spends most of her life trying to be independent and then when she finally has that freedom when she’s older, then she has to try to hang on to her independence amid all of her family’s issues. There are flashbacks, but again, there aren’t so many characters that I couldn’t keep everyone straight. The title of The Shell Seekers refers to a painting by Penelope’s father, Lawrence Stern.
In typical Rosamunde Pilcher style, each chapter is a deeper dive into the life of a character. You get a very domestic, homey and comfortable feeling while reading this book, as well as Winter Solstice. Someone is always making a pot of tea. Her descriptions of the scenery, especially Cornwall where she grew up, had me smelling the sea air and made me want to get on a plane and see Cornwall for myself.
It’s not literature, but it’s was on the best seller list for 30 consecutive weeks and it’s one of the BBC’s Big Read Top 100 novels. It’s an easy read that I was not able to put down and my favorite Pilcher book to date. I whizzed through its 509 pages in less than two weeks and that included a long holiday weekend. I plan to read and review more of Rosamunde Pilcher’s books.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, then go to your quiet place and read or listen to this one.