I had not actually heard of The Shell Seekers before being recommended it. I was intrigued as it was promoted as a modern classic and a story of family life 'to enchant generations of readers'. It was also one of the BBC's Big Read Top 100 best loved novels. A short way into Rosamunde Pilcher's 671-page novel I am enthralled by the story but also dismayed at the lengthy description of landscapes and scenery. However, this technique also goes a long way to fulfil an unexpected function of the book.
As a reader in 2013, The Shell Seekers being published in 1987 and set in the 1980s, I am struck by how the book brings the 1980s vividly to life in a way the that numerous documentaries cannot. The book captures upper middle class lifestyle and concerns of the era in such a way that as a reader you come away learning more than you might from any history book. As well as capturing the world of just 26 years ago, a Britain still routed in a deep class divide and concerned with status, money and deference, Pilcher brings her characters alive. This is said of many authors, but I can think of few who make their readers so involved with their characters that they can feel strongly for them.
I came away frustrated at the flaky character of protagonist and mother of three Penelope Keeling. Over-romanticised for my taste, and although it is 'wonderful, evocative and inviting' in parts, its the tale of life and love throughout the book that ties it together.
I would definately recommend this, but slow readers beware of the length!
Carpe Diem xx