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The Shell Seekers Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,282 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the heels of a hasty wartime marriage, Penelope Keeling is left to repent at leisure in the English seaside town of Porthkerris, where her artist father and her French mother are spending the duration of World War II. Safe in the embracing arms of that warm household, Penelope forgets her sour husband and takes a lover, and in that relationship, too, she weathers the war's privations and its hardest blows. In a beautifully detailed family saga that shifts effortlessly back and forth in time, Pilcher (Under Gemini) recounts Penelope's story and that of her three children. When their grandfather's work suddenly comes into vogue, Nancy, obsessed over status, and sleek Noel, adept at getting the most and giving the least, join in urging their mother to sell The Shell Seekers, a painting that gives her great joy. Only Olivia, a cool and collected magazine editor, refuses to be party to their barely concealed avarice. Pilcher's 13th book is a satisfying and savory family novel, in which rich layers of description and engagingly flawed characters more than make up for the occasional cliche. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; Troll Book Club main selection.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As this absorbing saga of a modern English family opens, 64-year-old Penelope Keeling is returning to her country house following a heart attack, and her three adult children have varying reactions to the news. The narrative is actually a series of deftly interwoven vignettes that shift 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. Pilcher's characters are well-drawn, real, and engrossing people. A thoroughly charming book for most fiction collections. Troll Book Club main selection.Maria A. Perez-Stable, Western Michigan Univ. Libs., Kalamazoo
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Shell Seekers (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 582 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; 10th Anniversary ed. edition (July 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312961324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312961329
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Once again Ms. Pilcher weaves a magical tale of ordinary folks. Good humored and caring, she introduces us to five people from very different walks of life, creating a family-type unit to nurture and love each other. Oscar, Elfrida, Lucy, Sam & Carrie are handling issues of loss, tradegy, family breakdown, divorce, re-marriage, aging, financial woes and abandonment when they find themselves sharing The Estate House in a small village in Scotland at the holiday season. Pilcher's characters exhibit the richness and depth and character we've come to expect. The settings are lovingly set out, from the cozy village of Diblo to the wind blown Cornwall coast, to the lochs and mountains of Scotland. An adventure to crawl into, to dwell, to breathe, to cry and to hope. You will want to just reach into the book and hug these characters, they are so dear and so believable.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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
4 Comments 136 of 141 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. A brief time, when darkness predominates. Yet in this brief time, Rosamund Pilcher has set a story filled with light and warmth.
The book is classic Pilcher, full of detail and texture, housed in quirky old buildings and peopled with obliging neighbors, wet dogs, unexpected guests and a cast of characters we can grow to love.
This is not a book to be rushed through. Don't read it in bits and pieces, wedged into stolen moments during lunch breaks or while waiting for your 11-year-old to finish soccer practice. Savor it. Sit in a comfy chair with a good reading light, have a nice restoring cup of tea and some biscuits at hand. (Okay, so here in the States we don't really have those kinds of biscuits - a good butter cookie will do.) Pace be damned. In fact, that's the whole thrust of the book - that these people are thrown together in a place and time that's out of their everyday world. They're forced to slow down, to wait, to exist in the here and now. And, by consequence, the few days they spend together make all the difference in their lives.
There is more than a story here. It's not just a collection of lovely descriptions, unique characters, and a touch of romance. There are so many things to enjoy - Elfrida, the aging actress who's not too old to fall in love, the unspoiled 14-year-old Lucy, gentle Oscar with whom you just begin to get a bit irritated until he finally takes action. That's the thing - there's a philosophy here, about living. About what makes every life and each day worthwhile. They will come on you unexpectedly, those moments in the book, and they are what makes this book, and others by Ms.
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By A Customer on August 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
At last, another book from this wonderful author. Elfrida joins the other strong, yet vulnerable characters that Ms. Pilcher created in her other books. As entrancing as the story line is her description of surroundings (even the weather). You really see the settings, you taste the food and feel the textures on each page. Her well fleshed characters are people you wished you knew, they have plausible histories and they develop quite satisfactorily in very interesting directions. It is lovely to read a book where characters are not limited in exploring their interests, drives and emotions by their ages. Although the plot's conflicts are resolved with no major surprises, the reader closes the book with regrets and the wish that the story could continue and the characters could move in next door.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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