Review: The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

page count: 582

genre: fiction, women’s literature, romance


Well would you look at that beautiful picture! Two well-read books (you can even see the cracks in their spine), one of them reviewed by me not too long ago, one about to be reviewed. Both by the same author, on a peeling red bench.

The Shell Seekers, to start us off here, has earned itself…


Four and a half stars! ūüôā

My mom gave me¬†The Shell Seekers for Christmas after she found out how much I loved¬†Coming Home. I had a pretty high stack of books to read, so I hadn’t started¬†The Shell Seekers until now. It really did not take me long to read all 582 pages, which is always a good sign. The book kept me occupied and distracted, lost in a fictional world and oblivious to the real one around me. There was a night where I was home alone for a few hours, and the house was making these awful noises, but it didn’t matter because I had my book. I let myself get fully absorbed, and time just flew. There was also a day at school where I was very bored, and I was reading instead of doing work! Don’t tell my teachers.

You know The Shell Seekers is a splendid book if I was reading it during school!

Oh, right, you’re probably wondering what it’s about. Rosamunde Pilcher has this unique style. She writes the most positively cozy books. I felt warm and safe and happy and lazy getting involved in the story.

It’s about a painting, believe it or not. The main character is the incredible elderly woman Penelope Keeling, whose father was a famous painter. For Penelope’s wedding gift, he gave her his greatest painting of all,¬†The Shell Seekers. The majority of the story takes place long after he is dead, however. It did flip back and forth a bit between the 1940s and the 1980s, and some parts deeply involved World War II, which you know I have a thing for.

It’s always interesting to see how the war impacted those living in England. What a tragedy to lose your loved ones. I also learned a lot of what women had on their mind: possibly joining the Wrens, the Red Cross, sewing black out curtains, and making sure the family had enough food with their meager ration cards. Could you imagine having ration cards telling you how much you’re allowed to eat? It must have been awful and scary, which somehow made me more involved in the story.

Sometimes throughout reading, I felt nostalgia, because Penelope was feeling nostalgia. Isn’t that an incredible thing? Pilcher has “skillz”.

As Penelope’s health declines, her three kids start to argue over what should become of the painting. The oldest daughter is Nancy, and nobody really likes poor Nancy. It’s implied that she is fat and middle-aged and annoying, with two ugly kids. Sorry, Nancy! The middle child, also a girl, is Olivia. She is the one we are rooting for and love! She has a successful career and is caring. The youngest, a son, is Noel. I always thought that was a feminine name, but I suppose I’m wrong. We don’t like Noel either.

There was also some lovely new characters introduced into the story, Sophie and Doris (from the WWII part of the book) and Danus and Antonia (from the time the novel is actually taking place). Much of the 1940s part of¬†The Shell Seekers is Penelope’s flashbacks to her “wartime romance,” meeting the love of her life.

The love woven into a story that’s essentially about a family and a painting was exceptional and something I’ll never forget.

I really enjoyed reading it, because it somehow also reminds me of my Grandma. Just in the way they speak and visit and are polite. They also drink lots of tea, which is something I love, so points for that.

I loved¬†The Shell Seekers, because it was simply one of those books that makes you start to wish you could be more like its characters. Please tell me I’m not the only one who tries to be like my favorite book characters! However, some of Rosamunde Pilcher’s characters seemed really similar to¬†the ones she created in Coming Home, which is why I felt the need to give it slightly less than five stars. Repetitiveness is one of the most boring things for me.

Not that The Shell Seekers was boring.

Her characters are extremely lovable, though. Penelope is just absolutely awesome and full of life. Her life is goals for mine. I aspire to be like her, and I wonder if she would have liked me if we were to meet. Yes, she is a fictional character I have imagined meeting.

Hopefully my review made you want to read the book, because the cover isn’t so great and it might throw you off.

Do you have any characters you would like to meet? Comment and let me know! We can have a discussion.


  1. Nadine · February 20, 2016

    I have always been sorry for Nancy. She is the reason why Penelope had to get married to Ambrose and her mother rejects her as soon as she sets eyes on her. Although the girl is pretty and engaging, her mother doesn’t like her. Fortunately, Penelope learns to love Nancy a little, but then Olivia is born and Nancy is only second-best. I always disliked Penelope’s marked preference for one of her children over the two others and cannot blame Nancy and Noel for their resentment. And I think Nancy should have been the “special” child because she knew all the people and places that were dear to Penelope – besides, doesn’t anyone notice that she leads exactly the same life as Penelope? Loveless marriage, horrible children, financial problems… yet we are meant to admire Penelope and despise Nancy.


    • letslovebooks · February 20, 2016

      That is so insightful… I never thought of it that way. Thanks for opening me up! I love discussing books and their characters. Maybe Nancy wasn’t so bad after all and we shouldn’t be mislead by Penelope just because she’s the ‘main’ character.


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