Cover detail from The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher showing two children walking on a sandy beach

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

My Rating - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

One of the many wonderful things about reading is its ability to bring people together. At the time of writing I am a member of three groups devoted to a particular author; my Beartown buddies where we discuss the Beartown series of novels by Fredrick Backman, the #MissReadreadalong group reading a novel a month from Miss Read's Thrush Green series and finally the Pilcher Seasons group where we are reading Rosamunde Pilcher's four biggest book throughout the year according to the season. The Books are:

  • Spring - Coming Home
  • Summer - The Shell Seekers
  • Autumn - September
  • Winter - Winter Solstice

Cover Detail from Coming Home

I have read them all before and have indeed reviewed September and Winter Solstice last year, but will read them again with the group. The group are great. I have seen photographs shared of some of the places inspired by locations for the book, suggestions of the perfect inspiration for the homes and of course our picks for people to play the characters in a film. It is a nice group and so with the end of June approaching we turned to The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. This comes in at number 50. on the Big Read List published by the BBC in 2003.

Find out more about my BBC Big Read Re-Read Challenge

Plot (from the Back of the Book)

A Mother loves her children; of course she does. But some times she may not like them very much. In Penelope Keeling's case, 2 of her 3 grown-up children give her cause for dislike. And when they put her under pressure to sell her most treasured possession - one of her Father's paintings - they provoke a family crisis.

My Thoughts

Out of the four Pilcher books, this is probably the one I know the least, so it was pleasant to read this again almost as though reading a new book.

I loved Penelope, who despite being the main character, was quite private. Choosing not to share details of her life with her children and keeping her memories deep within her heart. I loved her free-spirit and her relationship with her Mother, Sophie and Father, Lawrence.

Themes emerge from Pilcher's novels, just like Loveday in Coming Home, Penelope during the War, felt herself whilst remaining at the family home. proving that a place can be in someone's bones just as much as the person you choose to spend it with.

Art remains another character. quietly hidden but playing a large role all the same. Again just as a picture inspired Gus in Coming Home, we understand the beauty and emotion of The Shell Seekers painting and what it means to Penelope.

The novel is set out in an interesting way, devoting chapters to Penelope and individual members of her family, but also to more secondary characters such as Hank or Doris. We see a glimpse, a snapshot of each of their lives and it helps move the plot along gently, each character having their own unique voice.

Penelope's three children are certainly interesting. Olivia seems the most sensible and closest to her mother. Nancy and Noel appear unlikeable and self-absorbed. I'm looking forward to re-reading September again as Noel does make a return in this novel and it will be fascinating to see the character arc. And also, why Rosamunde Pilcher chose to bring his character back.

As always, the star of the novel remains Pilcher's writing. She has the ability to describe every single detail of a scene, bringing it to life in such a way as to make the reader hear a ticking clock, smell bread being made or hear birdsong. But she does it in such a way that it is not a stream of consciousness. Each word is used sparingly and crisply. It is a wonderful skill and it's one of the reasons why I adore her writing so much.

I've very much enjoyed re-reading this again almost as a brand new novel. It is an absorbing slower-paced, gentle read. I can picture myself reading this on a beach in Cornwall. Heaven!

I will be back on Friday, with a review of not one, but two books from a particular series that I have not read in years. Have a good week xx