The Shell Seekers
Every once in a long while, a novel comes out on shelves that stays in the hearts and minds of readers so that they feel, once they’ve turned the final page, as if they MUST recommend it to their friends, their postman, their friends and neighbors – everyone they know. One book like that for me is one I picked up at a used bookstore fifteen years ago on a whim, because the bookseller recommended it. That book is The Shell Seekers.
I’ve carried that same copy, an original edition hardback missing the dust jacket, around with me for the past few days. It is an old book, and though our site is called Great NEW Books, sometimes we feature a book that’s a bit different than our other recommendations. Always, though, we share only books that we authentically love.
This past spring, when I received an email about The Shell Seekers being re-released for the first time in trade paperback, I danced for joy. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher has long been one of my favorite books. I couldn’t wait to have the chance to share it here.
The Shell Seekers is a sweeping family saga set in England about relationships, between a mother and her children, spouses and lovers and friends, and the unforeseen circumstances that change and twist our lives over the course of our years. The story spans three generations, but centers on Penelope Keeling and a painting she owns called The Shell Seekers.
Penelope’s father, an artist, painted The Shell Seekers of her as a child, growing up along the coast of Sussex, collecting shells along the beach. The painting remains Penelope’s favorite possession, even at an advanced age, and becomes the center point of the tug-of-war among her three children, Nancy, Olivia, and Noel. Over the course of the narrative as it shifts in place and time through England to Ibiza, in present and past, Penelope’s children discover the value of their grandfather’s painting and each develop plans for it. But over the course of the story, we come to know Penelope, and begin to understand her plans for the painting, plans none of her children know.
By the end of my first reading of The Shell Seekers, Penelope won me over as a favorite literary character. She’s sophisticated, yet loves the simple things: conversation and drinks on the patio, her garden bursting with fresh flowers, and the memories of her beloved father that The Shell Seekers brings. Through her recollections as the story weaves together, we come to understand how she has become the extraordinary woman she is, and how she has developed her strength and come to be close to the people she deeply loves.
If there is one old/new book you read this year, The Shell Seekers must be it. Though to some it may seem slow to start, the characters soon take hold of your hand and don’t let go. It’s a must-read, for sure.
Have you read The Shell Seekers? We’d love to hear what you think — please share in the comments below. Thanks!