on April 20, 2003
To start off, this book is a masterpiece. I loved most of the characters and their trials and tribulations made me smile. But I have to say that it was extremely slow at times and also some of the descriptions were unnecessary. I thought that reading about everything the Keelings did every day for 60 years could be a little tiring. 300 pages must have described their life alone! And considering this books considerable size, I'm sure it could have been much better. Also, the story of the painting the Shell Seekers seemed only secondary, the book seemed to travel only around the Keelings- not that they were not interesting in their own right.
The plot also seemed weak and disorderly at times. it doesn't mean I did not like the book. I just think it could have focused more on the story instead of just the house. I might read September, but I will wait a little while before reading anymore of Rosamunde Pilcher. This book will still come recommended by me to my friends. It's worth enjoying!
on July 6, 2002
This is one of the best books I've read in ages and I love re-reading it. Pilcher's stories create worlds the reader wants to settle into and stay in.
Penelope (I see her as Kate Hepburn in "Summertime") has a painting that she especially loves. Her father did it years ago, of her playing on the beach, and titled it "The Shell Seekers." Now her deceased father's paintings have become valuable. When the story begins, Penelope returns home from a hospital stay. She has released herself, feeling that she has sufficiently recovered from her heart attack. She feels an increased sensitivity to life and relationships and she's driven by a need to accomplish some final things with family and friends.
There's a great deal to be desired in her relationship with two of her children and with their relationship with each other. They want her to sell the painting and their motives are selfish.
As the story progresses, Penelope feels the need to return to her childhood home. She invites each child to go with her and each refuses for one reason or another. So she takes two cherished young friends on a pilgrimage into her past that changes their destinies. And hers.
Pilcher creates women characters who are strong and independent and at the same time feminine. Penelope doesn't need a man to help her work through her problems but when one comes along, she's gracious and kind.
This book is about values and relationships, hope and dreams, rights and wrongs. It's a delightful story that I hated to end. I wanted it to go on and on and on.
on September 1, 2001
This has got to be one of the best books I have ever read. Pilcher takes you in, warms your heart and then wraps you up in the tales of her story, which is spun so intricately with love. Her writing style leaves no corner of a setting or character uncovered. You can see the tilt of their head or an upturned smile, even the scent that they might be wearing or the sea breeze as the wind whips the hair against your face. She is a master.
Penelope is in the later years of her life. After time spent in the hospital she is facing her mortality, along with the present she is remembering her life, loves, and secrets. One of which she has carried quietly over the decades. She is taking a good hard look at her 3 grown children who have not all turned out like a mother might hope for. As they quibble over Penelope's assets she is disgusted by their behavior.
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. I have read and enjoyed many of Pilcher's works, one of my favorites being WINTER SOLSTICE, but I have to say this was indeed my favorite of all time. Kelsana 9/01/01
on August 4, 2001
Penelope Keeling has just recovered from a heart attack and wants to spend the rest of her days as if it never happened. So when her doctor recommends to her daughter Nancy that Penelope get a house guest Nancy is filled with worries. She would like to get her mother a housekeeper but they could never afford it. So when she finds out from her sister Olivia that Penelope's father's (Lawrence Stern) paintings are worth a fortune Nancy wants to sell the immediately. And there brother Noel wants her to sell them too, but only so he can inherit the money. Olivia is dead set against it but soon the question of selling their mother's paintings, including Penelope's beloved "The Shell Seekers," grows into a huge debate. A debate that effects every life around them. But in the end it will be Penelope's decision on selling the paintings. And as she reminisces about her past she knows that there can be only one answer.
Set partly in modern day England with flash backs to WW2, The Shell Seekers is an entertaining novel. Though it started out a bit slow it soon improved. Each chapter is named after a main character and each one is more interesting than the last. The story is touching and though a bit realistic at times, it's impossible not to enjoy. I loved this book and I'm sure to read another novel by Rosamunde Pilcher.
on March 10, 2001
I don't know if my review can do this book justice. I loved this book. Before you know it, you're pulled in, and by the time it's over, you don't want it to end. It's such a lovely, and realistic, story of family, friends, and lost loves.
It starts off with the individual and present stories of Penelope and her children. From the way the characters are written, you get a true sense of each character, specifically her children, Noel and Nancy. Even so, at times you hope that they will surprise you and actually show some compassion towards their mother or each other.
What truly drew me in, however, were the the flashbacks depicting Penelope's years during the war. It displays the significance of the devastation that the war had on those living close to it. The relationship between Penelope and her parents are especially touching. What can I say - Penelope is a special person, and everyone seems to know that except her children (the exception being, perhaps, Olivia). But what makes the story even more special is that Penelope knows her children's faults and accepts them. This isn't a story of a woman scorned or bitter. It's the story of a woman who loved, lost, and went back to her childhood days and relived them again. She had no regrets (well, maybe one....), and she was happy with her decisions.
A very special book.
on February 20, 2001
Penelope Keeling is a character that you just cannot help but love ~~ hosting dinner parties for friends and family, wearing shabby clothes simply because clothes aren't that important to her and talking about wine, literature and art ~~ sounds perfect to me! I am not fond of Nancy and Noel ~~ two of her children who seems to expect too much from their mother, while Olivia is my favorite child ~~ she's so much like her mother except for being career-driven. She doesn't put many demands on her mother ~~ she's the daughter every mother wishes she has!
Pilcher writes convincingly of the human relationships between Penelope and her children as well as the other characters. She writes of ordinary lives transformed by love. Her descriptions of Cornwall are so vivid that you can almost see the breakers on the beach as well as smelling the salt in the air. It must be artists' paradise!
What captures my fancy is how Penelope is such a warm-hearted person who uses her inheritance to pay for a trip home. Too many people expect their parents to leave them money after they have gone, whereas Penelope spends her inheritance prudently and wisely. She has never followed the rules and she does it with so much grace and love ~~ it makes one want to be more like her instead of like two of her greedy children.
This book covers more emotions and depths of the human lives and these characters become as real as your family. It's a great summer read (or even a winter read ~~ with a pot of hot tea nearby and delicious scones!) and the characters will linger long after the last page is turned.
on January 20, 2001
I doubt that anyone who reads "The Shell Seekers" will ever forget Penelope Keeling and her three children---Nancy, Olivia, and Noel. Nor will they be likely to forget Sophie, Lawrence, Danus, Antoinia, Richard, and the other characters that move through this spell-binding, heart-enriching novel.
Mrs. Pilcher sets out to explore the disastrous effects that the prospect of an inheritance can have on a normal family. She also combines the lifestyle of upper-class Bohemians and the days before, during, and after World War II to tell a story that will be forever fresh.
From the beautiful beaches of Cornwall to the idyllic setting of Ibiza to the bustling life in London, Rosamunde Pilcher transports readers to a world as satisfying as a cup of tea with a plate of warm scones.
You will see Penelope grow up in the sheltering world of her artist father and young, French mother. You will share her first love with Ambrose, her true love with Richard, her most wonderful joys and her deepest heartbreaks. You will see her anguish with her three adult children as she struggles to give them independence and feels their venom. You will see her come to terms with her life and her beloved painting of "The Shell Seekers."
I first read this book several years ago and only yesterday finished a second reading of it. I found it even more warm and heartfelt than ever. I will make it a point to savor this most marvelous book every few years just for the pure joy it gives.
on June 15, 2000
Many years ago I stumbled upon a book I borrowed from the library for no other reason than it had a most beautiful cover. The book was The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher and the rest is book history. History because this book about Penelope Keeling, her family, her life in the Cotsowlds area of England and her memories of WWII has become a most beloved read throughout the world.
Then recently, again while browsing the libraries audiotapes, I came across the tape of The Shell Seekers and thought, why not listen to it.
Now there are few audios I would compare to the reading experience. Clearly I enjoy reading more than listening and most often I don't finish the audiotape preferring to experience the reading of a book first. But in the case of The Shell Seekers audiotape, I found the tape provided me once again with a wonderful experience as I was surrounded totally by the characters, sights and sounds of Ms. Pilchers now classic book The Shell Seekers.
This is now perfect walking weather and what could be better than strolling along and listening to this pleasurable read. Believe me, before you know it, you'll be walking miles and miles and won't want to stop till you hear the last word.
on August 23, 1999
Sometimes a writer believes in her story so completely that she creates something beyond the limits of her talent. That is Rosamunde Pilcher's achievement in "The Shell Seekers." Ms. Pilcher generally writes nice stories for women, but here she exposes a touchstone that obviously means a great deal to her, and her sincerity and conviction come through on every page. This beautiful story of love beyond and across time, of one life lived with courage and self-awareness, will move and inspire you. I return to this book when I feel overwhelmed and depressed because it cheers me and reminds me what is really important. The writers of "serious" fiction believe the world is a sad, dreary, complex place. This book reminds you that the world always has been, and always will be, a wonderful place where small pleasures bring great happiness, where love warms and sustains even the most weary heart, and where each day might bring a wonderful revelation. Yes, sometimes the book is amusingly English, especially with its taken-for-granted system of two classes: those who clean house, and those who employ housecleaners. But overwhelmingly, this book is a treature, and I envy those of you who will discover it for the first time. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
on April 13, 2004
Oddly I was always hesitant to read this novel. Pilcher's coming of age saga Coming Home is one of those "desert isle" books that I could read againa and again. I wasn't sure anything else could be as good. This is, just very different.
This is a reflective story of an elderly English lady looking back upon her life, her choices, circumstances in and out of her control, and those around her. Each chapter focuses on a differnt character and their relationship to Penelope, the protagonist. I assumer Penelope would be a typicla little old lady, but she has such depth and opinions of her own. The book wanders around significant events in her life including the turbulent WWII years.
I was incredibly moved by the end of this book. Without spoiling anything- the scene where her daughter finds the red drss in her closet brought me to tears. This book celebrates love and life. I adored it and know it will be one I reread!