Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rosamunde Pilcher: best-selling author

Rosamunde Pilcher is another author that I discovered recently. Once again, I was quite persuaded by the book cover! This was of Rosamunde Pilcher's book,'The Shell Seekers', published by New English Library, London, 1987. The cover was of another lovely beach and seaside scene, with two children walking along the beach. Here is the book cover:

I did also read the blurb on the back of the book this time though, and flicked through the pages, to see if I liked the way in which the author had written the book. I liked the general look and the feel of it all; I thought it would be a book that I would enjoy and engage with. And once again, how right I proved to be! I bought the book in Waterstones and chose it over other books, that also looked appealing on initial inspection, but which I then rejected, because I was not so keen , on browsing, on the way in which the books appeared to have been written.
It was yet another book that I could not put down. The story is about a mother, Penelope Keeling, trying to somehow deal with her three adult children, who really did not treat her in a very nice, loving and caring fashion. Olivia, though, is the best of the three; she at least respects her mother's decisions - but then again, Penelope always loved Olivia more, and that was because of her own fate in love. The other two (Noel and Nancy) seemed far more bothered about what money they could get out of Penelope.

Anyway, the story is interwoven wonderfully with art, because Penelope's father was the famous painter, Lawrence Stern. Now, Stern's painting, 'The Shell Seekers', which he gave to Olivia, hangs in a room in Olivia's home. Her children are keen on the idea of her selling this, along with some panels and sketches of Stern's that Olivia has. When Olivia realises all this, she makes her own decisions. She sells the panels and donates 'The Shell Seekers' to an art gallery. She spends a little of the money on a luxury holiday for herself and takes two young people (her companion and gardener) along with her. None of her own children would go with her. These two young people then fall in love, much to Olivia's delight. In her will she then leaves the panels to the young man.

Penelope then sadly dies of a heart attack. Noel and Nancy cannot at all understand why Penelope made the decisions that she did in regard to the paintings, but Olivia does. In some way or other, love conquers, because in the last few pages, the two young people (Damus and Antonia) get married and Olivia is invited to an unexpected special celebratory wedding lunch.

'The Shell Seekers was one of the BBC's Big Read Top 100 Best Loved Novels.

There is a little additional story to me buying and reading this book though, which gives it an added dimension. I was reading the book whilst waiting for a train - now there is nothing unusual about me reading books on trains! But what was unusual was that a lady interrupted me and said how good this book was, as are all the books by Rosamunde Pilcher. And that the books by her son, Robin Pilcher are also very good, she said. Well, I was most surprised, and in fact, quite taken aback! I told her how I had started to select books from bookshops and libraries by the look and feel of them more than I had ever done before and how successful this was proving to be for me. Furthermore, that I was very keen these days to find and read novels that I could quickly and easily engage with and really enjoy. Life is too short to be reading books that leaves one cold and alienated and where one is not able to finish them etc. The lady very much agreed. In this frame 0f mind, I also recommended the authors Douglas Kennedy and Erica James to her, that I had also discovered by this route (see my previous blog entries on 'Douglas Kennedy' and 'You can't judge a book by its cover?'). The lady said that she liked Rosamunde Pilcher's books because they were written so well; and that they were interesting stories, and with no swearing etc. I did think the book was just a little old-fashioned in this regard - I mean, Penelope is introduced as being more or less an old lady, when she was only in her mid-60s. Heavens! But this is a minor criticism, compared to the warmth, wonder and intrigue that flows throughout the book.

Usually, I can quickly tell the value of a non-fiction piece of work these days; it seems that the same thing is now starting to happen to me with fiction. This also fits in with me reading more novels again at the moment (over non-fiction reading) and with my thoughts turning more and more to novel-writing. I was also interested to discover that Rosamunde Pilcher began writing when she was just 7 years old and published her first short story when she was only 18 years old.

I shall definitely, now, be reading more of Rosamunde Pilcher's books!

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