Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

Where were you in 1987? I was in Florida, starting a new job in Lee County, and certainly not reading the number of books that I now read each year. Of course, as a librarian, I was aware of Rosamunde Pilcher's #1 bestseller,The Shell Seekers. But, I was too busy to spend time with a book over 600 pages long. And, I really think I appreciate the book now that I'm in my fifties much more than I would have at thirty. After all that time, The Shell Seekers is out in trade paperback for the first time, with a note from Thomas Dunne, the publisher for Pilcher's book, and Pilcher's introduction to the twenty-fifth anniversary edition. Both notes are as warm and welcoming as the book itself.

The Shell Seekers is Penelope Keeling's story, from the time she was a child, appearing in a picture of that title by her artist father, Lawrence Stern. The picture has been her refuge and comfort throughout her life, but when her adult children discover Lawrence Stern's paintings have increased in value, they have plans for the money if she'd only sell her paintings. But, except for one major mistake in her life when she was a young woman, Penelope Keeling has always known her own mind. And, she's not going to allow her children to push her around. Instead, she handles her affairs, and decides to make a long-overdue trip to Cornwall where she grew up and spent the years during World War II.

In the course of the story, we get to know Penelope and all three of her children. In her introduction, Pilcher calls them "The tiresome Nancy, the cool-headed Olivia, the materialistic Noel". But, it's Penelope who will claim your heart, and make you cry. She's strong, independent, and full of love. Her life may not have turned out as she would have liked it, but she enjoyed it, and led a gracious, Bohemian existence as befitted the daughter of an elderly artist and a young French woman. And, it's that simple joy in life that two of her children couldn't appreciate.

If you've already read The Shell Seekers, do you remember it? Is it one of those books that lingers in your memory? As a reader who loves wonderful characters, I was drawn to Penelope, moved by her courage, her will to live and enjoy life on her terms. The book is the story of one woman's life, her mistakes, the love of her life, loss, and the strength to go on. It's a story that has been written before and since 1987. But, Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers is beautiful and moving, a story that's timeless. Don't wait twenty-eight years to try it.

*****
Here's the note the publicist sent, information about The Shell Seekers.

Book Synopsis: An instant bestseller when it was first published in 1987, The Shell Seekers is an enduring classic which has touched the hearts of millions of readers worldwide.  A novel of connection, it is the story of one family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. It is filled with real people--mothers and daughters, husband and lovers--and inspired with real values.  Now for the first time in trade paperback, this magical novel—the kind of reading experience that comes along only once in a long while—is the perfect summer read, whether you are returning to it again, or opening the cover for the first time.

At the end of a long and useful life, Penelope Keeling's prized possession is The Shell Seekers, painted by her father, and symbolizing her unconventional life, from bohemian childhood to wartime romance. When her grown children learn their grandfather's work is now worth a fortune, each has an idea as to what Penelope should do. But as she recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life, she knows there is only one answer...and it lies in her heart.

Author Info: ROSAMUNDE PILCHER has had a long and distinguished career as a novelist and short-story writer, but it was her phenomenally successful novel The Shell Seekers that captured the hearts of all who read it and won her international recognition as one of the most-loved storytellers of our time.  The Shell Seekers was followed by September and then by Coming Home and Winter Solstice, which also became worldwide bestsellers.  She lives in Perthshire, Scotland.

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. St. Martin's Griffin. 1987. 632p.







14 comments:

Kay said...

I don't know when I read this book - probably not so long after it came out. I loved it. And the characters. I want to reread it. Feel like it might hit me differently at my current age rather than in my early 30's. So happy they have republished this book because many new readers will come to it.

Lesa said...

You're right, Kay. I think I appreciated it at my age much more than I would have at 30 when it first came out. Beautiful book.

Beth Hoffman said...

I read this book years ago. It was on a bookshelf at a vacation house in Savannah. Though I remember liking it, I can't, for the life of me, recall much about the story. Maybe one of these days I'll reread it.

Lesa said...

It was really about the characters, particularly Penelope, Beth, more than an actual story. Her kids want the money from selling the paintings, and she decides to take matters into her own hands. Then, it's her backstory, her daughter's story, but it's about the characters more than plot. Loved Penelope!

Sandi Lewis said...

I read this book when it first came out and absolutely loved it! I can't tell you how many people I encouraged to read it. Maybe I should read it again now that I'm older.

Sandi

Lesa said...

You might love it even more now, Sandi!

Kaye Barley said...

I remember discovering this book when it first came out and falling completely head over heels in love with it. And the TV movie with Angela Lansbury (1989, which is available on DVD. I think there was another version which was not as good) was exceptional! If you loved The Shell Seekers and have not read her "Winter Solstice," "Coming Home," or "September," grab them right away - you will love them.

Lesa said...

Funny, Kaye, I have read Winter Solstice and other books by her. I just never went back and read The Shell Seekers thanks for the note about the DVD!

Judy Stewart said...

I have read most of Rosamund Pilcher's books; certainly all that I could find. My favorite, which I have read several times, is Snow in April. It is short with a layered story and characters I cared about. I will look for Shell Seekers again. Thanks for the heads up on an old favorite.

ceblain said...

I have heard that this book is great, but long books are hard for me to get through as I have vision problems and cannot read for hours and hours on end anymore. I will probably get it when and if it becomes available on CD not Audible though.

Cynthia

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Judy. I'll have to try Snow in April sometime. That is one I haven't read.

Lesa said...

Or, maybe you'd want to look for the older dvd with Angela Lansbury, Cynthia. I believe Kaye when she says it was exceptional.

Miranda James said...

I read it many years ago, when it was still fairly new. I loved it, and it's one I want to reread. I'd also recommend her book Winter Solstice.

Lesa said...

I loved Winter Solstice. I don't know why I never went back and read The Shell Seekers. I think I had it confused with The Thorn Birds.