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The Shell Seekers

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  77,762 Ratings  ·  2,033 Reviews

The Shell Seekers is a novel of connection: of one family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The Shell Seekers is filled with real people--mothers and daughters, husband and lovers--inspired with real values. The Shell Seekers centers on Penelope Keeling--a woman you'll always remember in world you'll never forget. The S

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Mass Market Paperback, 592 pages
Published July 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1987)
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Rachael
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
There's something about this book that always makes me resolve to move to Cornwall, bake lots of bread and have an enormous flower garden, and spend the rest of my days painting huge swathes of light on the beaches. That aside, this is one book that I regularly read every six months and love each time. I don't know how to describe it. Just go read it.
Candi
"The most ordinary of prospects caused her to stop and stare. The last of the leaves dropped from the trees, and the bare branches made lace against pale skies. Sun after rain turned cobbled streets blue as fish scales, dazzling to the eye. Autumn winds, whipping the bay to a scud of white-caps, brought with them, not cold, but a surging sense of vitality…"

Penelope Keeling knows how to live life to the fullest and I absolutely adore her! She grasps those things that matter most in life – the com
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Dem
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

A beautifully written character driven novel about family and life, love and loss, greed and hope, a book that has the charm and eloquence of books from a bygone era, just a good old fashioned family saga, a story with real characters and places that are interesting and vivid.

I had never read a book by this author before and as a couple of Goodread friends have really enjoyed her novels and the fact I saw it on the BBC list of Top 100 books I just had to try one and I was in not dis
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Mathew
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rosamund Pilcher is consistently marketed via book jackets covered with flowers. I'm not sure why. On the surface, Pilcher's stories are nostalgic and evocative of magical other places where good things always happen to good people; but her novels and characters are consistently rich, complicated, and subtle. I've not read another author who could draw the infuriating imperfections and dysfunctions of family so accurately, or so compassionately. It's easy to admire, then almost despise, and then ...more
Margitte
From the blurb:

"Set in London and Cornwall from World War II to present(1983), The Shell Seekers tells the story of the Keeling family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The family centers around Penelope, and it is her love, courage, and sense of values that determine the course of all their lives. Deftly shifting back and forth in time, each chapter centers on one of the principal players in the family's history. The unifying thread is an o
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Sara
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I seldom find myself blubbering over a book anymore. I used to do it when I was younger, but my insides seem to have toughened as I have aged. My sentimental side is harder to access, and even when a book evokes strong feelings I do not really cry. Well, Pilcher put the lie to that today. I cried like I was 15 again, felt foolish doing it, and felt clean and empty afterward.

OK, maybe I was just needing a good cry. It happens. But, there was something very touching in the way Pilcher presented th
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Laura
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time, but I'd be hard-pressed to explain why. The criticisms of this book are true enough--semi-cliched characters and all--but I just love them. I love Penelope and this book makes me want to garden and cook soup and let everyone be themselves even if they're stuffy and stodgy or not at all in fashion. I love that her personal life is real, as in far from perfect--her societally correct husband was miserable and her true love wasn't allowed. I love that A ...more
Stephanie
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mycuppa
You really can't judge a book by its cover.

People have recommended Rosamunde Pilcher's books to me for years, and I refused to read them because all the covers looked like they had been marinated in mothballs. But after spying "The Shell Seekers" on the BBC's "The Big Read: Top 100 Books," I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Annoyingly, several people had put it on reserve at the library before me, so by the time I received it, I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as I had been when I had
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Lucy
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From its supermarket cover (have you seen it? It felt embarrassing to have such a romantically embossed book in my hands) to its one-dimensional characters, the entire book reminded me of a heavyweight beach read.

So....what should get a "nice summer read" review instead trips me up for weeks, unable to write anything about this book and a dozen others because I'm forced to question my reasoning. Why do I feel so bad about being critical of this book? Mostly, I think it's because many friends an
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Jo Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

I'm not a huge fan of genreless fiction, not in the least when it has a strong romance-vibe, but I found The Shell Seekers to be a pleasant read. It was not at all taxing and can be described as escapist literature, and requires not an awful lot of mental agility to get through, but that was part of its charm.

The best thing about the book was how splendidly well it was written. I wasn't hugely captiv
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Abeer Hoque
I thought this book would be better for all its NYT Book Review (and other) praise, but it wasn't. Ostensibly a sprawling family saga centring around matriarch Penelope, it's basically the same 2 or 3 characters with different names playing out over three generations.

If you're a "good" character, then you're independent, stubborn, glossy haired, tall, beautiful. You love France, holiday in Spain, dream of Cornwall, and believe in children out of wedlock and monied bohemian lifestyles (but not t
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Vera
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite
Τρυφερό, πολυπρόσωπο, ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο και όμως τόσο δυνατό, η Πίλτσερ παρασύρει τον αναγνώστη σε μια υπέροχη ιστορία.

Απο τις πιο χαρισματικές συγγραφείς με ιδιαίτερη ευαισθησία!Συναρπαστικό με εξαιρετικό αφηγηματικό λόγο ταξιδεύει τον αναγνωστή σε πανέμορφα αγγλικά τοπία και κυρίως στην Κορνουάλη, με μοναδικό αφηγηματικό λόγο.
Μοναδικό αρνητικο σημείο του οι μακροσκελείς περιγραφές.
Jeanette
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I have to add agreement. She wrote with such compassion without a hint of the maudlin. Her books were like rich soothing chocolate - perfect for blooming a centered core of caring/ peaceful contemplation. And they never enabled trouble or dysfunction, but seemed to disarm it at the source.

The flowers on the bookcovers I understand. Graphics of her gardens. Her characters often centered themselves in gardening and her plant depth (knowledge of form and placements) was phenomenal.
Susu
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I read this years ago when I lived in Seattle. I still remember it. A plot that one remembers for 20 years speaks a lot for a novel.
Ashley
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
“She had loved them all, her children. Loved each one the best, but for different reasons. Love, she had found, had a strange way of multiplying.”

Rosamunde Pilcher creates a full and mostly satisfying world here—a family saga heaped with descriptions of lovely gardens, splendid meals, the exotic beauty of Ibiza, and the tranquil coast of Cornwall. In her introduction, she writes that she intended The Shell Seekers to be “A big fat novel for women. ... Something, above all, that tapped into my li
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Mo
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was at loose ends, not knowing what I felt like reading. I had a CRAZY busy week coming up and I knew I didn't want to waste what little time I had with a mediocre book. So I decided to scroll through my GR friend Sarah’s shelves, and see what she had rated 5 stars. My eye fell upon ‘The Shell Seekers’ and I remembered that our mutual friend Claude also had given it 5 stars. (Then a lightbulb went off over my head. They, along with another mutual friend Gita, had all recommended this book to m ...more
Burgundy Rose
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those few times when I feel like Goodreads should have a regular star rating, and then a separate award for those Special Books. Those that take over your mind and soul. Those that somehow strike that perfect balance between cosy and haunting. The Shell Seekers is one such book.
Rosamunde Pilcher is an author I've always meant to read, she's often mentioned in the same breath as comforting authors I love - Miss Read, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Georgette Heyer, but it took me this long
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Jill
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I read this because it is one of my moms favorite authors/books and I wanted to be able to discuss it with her while she is still around. It was very enjoyable and amusing book about a family and the issues one has to deal with as a parent ages. The struggle between letting the parent be independent and still be safe is always a tough one. The thing I took away from this book was the importance of letting a person be who they are no matter their age and limitations.
Penelope (the matriarch of th
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Oana


If, when deciding to pick up this 500+ pages tome, you’re expecting some kind of plot, this is surely not the book for you. If you enjoy evocative dreamy novels and atmospheric writing about mundane beautiful things, then this is the perfect choice. The Shell Seekers is exactly what the blurb tells you it is: a novel of connection: of one family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The quintessential plotless novel. It is about realistic charact
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Susan
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this a million years ago. I still remember it being so good.
Lynne Wald
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women everywhere
Rosmund Pilcher is someone I discovered on holiday in Cyprus. I had finished reading all the books I had taken, and in the hotel there was a BIG book by here called Winter Solstice. Because I had nothing else to do I started to read it.
the story is about a woman of 60, ex actress who is involved with a man, of a certain age, who has just lost his wealthy wife and only daughter. The woman takes him under her wings, and he is kicked out of his house by the step sons. the plot involves a house in
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Katherine
Oct 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This lovely novel is so atmospheric you feel you're there; you can almost smell the flowers, feel the tang of the sea and see light glint off the water. My first reading of this book, so many years ago, instilled in me such an interest and a love for Cornwall that it remains today, while the well-written characters seem more to be real people than characters from a book. An old favorite that is still a wonderful pleasure to revisit.

4.5 stars instead of 5 simply because there are a few points in
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Marialyce
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel was positively wonderful. I enjoyed every single page of it.
Carmo
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritos, inglaterra
Adorei este livro. Gosto sempre destas grandes histórias que atravessam gerações. Neste caso começou no entardecer da vida da protagonista: Penélope. A partir daqui é o regresso ao passado e às suas origens, feito num relato emocionante que a autora tornou magnifico.

Penélope teve uma infância feliz em Inglaterra, na companhia dos pais - mãe francesa e pai inglês; pintor - e poderia ter tido uma vida comum como qualquer outra mulher, não tivesse a vida reservado para ela algumas surpresas. Atrave
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Megan Baxter
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book that I really enjoyed because of the characters - the main character, Penelope, in particular. The story is another of those sprawling family stories (in both time and space and characters), which in general, I enjoy very much, as long as they are skillfully told and executed.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgas
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Lori
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a novel set in England during WWII and into the supposed present. This is one of Lynnette’s favorite books so I wanted to read it to try to understand what she likes. It is written with a definite woman’s point of view in terms of language and emphasis. I did like the book; Pilcher is a very good writer with depth in her characterizations and descriptions of places and people. The story is about an older woman, Penelope, who reflects back on her life. She has three older children, two who are se ...more
Susana
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ingleses
(review in english below)

Com uma escrita agradável e sem grandes pretensões, com boas descrições de ambiente, a autora conseguiu manter-me sempre presa a esta história, passada em Inglaterra em duas épocas separadas por 40 anos - durante a II Guerra Mundial e na década de oitenta.

Esta é basicamente a história de Penelope, embora cada capítulo tenha o nome de um personagem diferente, com distintos papéis e importância na sua vida. Apesar de a maior parte destes serem bastante estereotipados - o c
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Stacy
Nov 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-lit
This story is told half through flashback and half in the “present”. (It’s a little dated - when the author describes the clothing, it’s all very 80's.) It was a suitable read for a cold winter’s night when I wanted to escape to England. I certainly learned more about British English, rich in phrases such as “She smelt the heather and the primroses”, “We none of us throw anything out”, and “Don’t let us go back to the cottage!”

Penelope is an interesting character and at times I admired her stren
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  • Evening Class
  • A Woman of Substance (Emma Harte Saga #1)
  • Colony
  • Starting Over
  • Homecoming
  • Cashelmara
  • A Week in Winter
  • The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
  • Vicky Angel
  • And Ladies of the Club
  • A Sport of Nature
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Rosamunde Scott was born on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall, England, UK, daughter of Helen and Charles Scott, a British commander. Just before her birth her father was posted in Burma, her mother remained in England. She attended St. Clare's Polwithen and Howell's School Llandaff before going on to Miss Kerr-Sanders' Secretarial College. She began writing when she was seven, and published h ...more
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“She believed, of course ... because without something to believe in, life would be intolerable.” 2013 likes
“It was good, and nothing good is truly lost. It stays part of a person, becomes part of their character. So part of you goes everywhere with me. And part of me is yours, forever” 210 likes
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