I was at the supper table with my mum and step-dad, going through The Big Reads, when my mum recommended Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, insisting I would enjoy it. I looked it up on Amazon but was immediatly put off by the dated front cover which resembled something like a Mills & Boon novel.
Thus it wasn’t until a couple of months later when I was trawling the shelves of a charity shop in nearby Wallingford that I came across it again, and, having just finished a book, I bought it.
The Shell Seekers is a rare kind of book – published in 1987, this beautifully written family saga has a nostalgic temperament that draws you in, regardless of your age. Spanning two time frames and set against wonderfully British backdrops of Cornwall’s beautiful beaches, bustling London and the solitude of the Cotswolds, the novel follows Penelope Keeling from childhood to the present day as a woman in her sixties with grown up children. The houses in which much of the book is set; her childhood home in Cornwall, Podmore Thatch, the bohemian Oakley Street in London and finally Carn Cottage in Gloucester, form the heart of the book, with Agas, dinner parties and bottles of wine creating a homely and traditional tone that is prominent throughout the text.
With its simple premise and personable characters, this is a truly heart-warming book that has the ability to appeal to a wide spectrum of readers. The 600 pages fly by and the bittersweet conclusion is as flawless as the rest of the novel. To me, The Shell Seekers is the perfect escape; it transports you to days gone by and is the the ideal companion to a weekend in the country with log fires and cups of tea a-plenty.
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