Rosamunde Pilcher – her 90th birthday.

I’ve been enjoying reading Rosamunde Pilcher’s books for a few years now, not nearly as long as my childhood penpal has been. Rosamunde Pilcher’s books are amazingly popular in Germany. I so wish that I could visit Bude in Cornwall to attend the celebrations to mark her 90th birthday, but as we have just returned from holiday it’s just not possible, Cornwall is a long way from Fife. If you live within easier striking distance you might want to hop along to Bude and take part in the celebrations.

Debbie Cousins has written to me about a couple of events to celebrate Rosamunde Pilcher’s 90th birthday and 25th anniversary since the publication of The Shell Seekers.

We are hosting an art Exhibition in Bude, inviting Cornish Artists to participate by submitting their work inspired by “The Shell Seekers”. The event will be from 11 Sep-4 Oct 2014 in Bude, there is also a food festival planned over weekend of 19-21 Sep. We have a limited number of signed novels available.


The Shell Seekers: Cornish Artists and Artisans Honour Rosamunde Pilcher
11 September 2014 – 4 October 2014
The Castle, Bude, Cornwall, UK EX23 8LG

Two special events in Bude, Cornwall have been planned to celebrate author Rosamunde Pilcher’s 90th birthday. The author’s novels are mainly based in Cornwall and filmed adaptions attract flocks of tourists, particularly German, every year.

Rosamunde Pilcher’s birthday, in September, will also mark more than 25 years since the release of one of her most famous works “The Shell Seekers” – the story of a family heirloom painting.

The Bude events are an exhibition entitled “The Shell Seekers: Cornish Artists Honour Rosamunde Pilcher” at The Castle, from 11 September 2014 until 4 October 2014
and an inaugural Bude For Food festival, showcasing the very best food, drink, hospitality and restaurants Bude and the surrounding area has to offer, from 19-21 September 2014, also at The Castle grounds. Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase the original art from the exhibition.

The Shell Seekers was published in 1987 and is a semi-autobiographical novel revealing life from the Second World War to the 1980’s. Following the life story of Penelope Keeling it examines her relationships with her parents, husband, her three children and lost loves, with resounding honesty. “The Shell Seekers” is a painting bestowed on Penelope as a wedding present from her father, a famous painter. Penelope has a dilemma of what to do with the painting, as her father’s works have become very valuable.

Cornish Artists who would like to take part in the artists’ exhibition should get in contact with Lynne Holehouse, at Seventh Wave Gallery in Bude, or for the Bude For Food Festival please contact Richard and Fionagh Harding from Cornish Charcuterie. Visitors will be able to keep up to date with these events through website.

German tourists come to Cornwall thanks to ZDF, a Germany TV production company who has produced more than 100 of Rosamunde Pilcher’s stories for TV and are set and filmed primarily in Cornwall. These programmes have become a Sunday TV institution for German families.

We look forward to welcoming you to these events.

Seventh Wave Gallery – Tel: 01288 356935
Bude for Food Festival – Tel: 07436 531689

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

This book was first published in 1987 so I’m really late in getting around to reading it. I know it was amazingly popular when it first came out but I was surprised when I looked at the BBC Top 100 book list that this one is number 50 on it. It’s for that reason that I thought I would read it and the fact that Rosamunde Pilcher has lived in nearby Dundee since her marriage to a Scottish soldier in 1946 and brought up her family there. So I suppose she can be regarded as a Scottish writer.

The Shell Seekers is set all over the place though with Edinburgh just being mentioned a few times. The main action takes place in the English Cotswalds and Cornwall and the story is a family saga which encompasses three generations of the Stern/Keeling family.

Laurence Stern is an artist who marries Sophie, the daughter of a friend. The huge age gap between the couple doesn’t seem to be a problem and their only child, Penelope enjoys a Bohemian lifestyle with her parents, living in London, Cornwall and France until the outbreak of World War II. After hearing about what was going on in Germany from some refugees Penelope decides to join the WRENs the next day but it isn’t exactly the sort of war work which she had been hoping to do as she’s a glorified servant, waiting at tables and she regrets joining up. It’s just the beginning of her troubles.

In later years with three grown up children Penelope discovers that her father’s paintings have become fashionable again and are fetching eye-watering sums of money at auctions. Unfortunately two of Penelope’s children have turned out to be a lot like their snobby, avaricious father and they are determined to persuade her to sell The Shell Seekers which is a large painting which was given to Penelope by her father and she is one of the three children portrayed in it.

I enjoyed the book, it’s an old fashioned family saga I suppose and as most of us have experience of growing up within a family and the same sorts of situations come up all the time, just because of the multiple personalities involved, it all has a sort of recognisable feel about it but it has the advantage that it doesn’t put your blood pressure up, as it would in real life!

Admittedly we don’t all have expensive paintings hanging on our walls but you know what I mean, there aren’t all that many families around who don’t have someone in it who feels hard done by, and of course they are usually the very ones who are the most selfish and self-centred. It all makes for a very cosy experience, now I’m looking forward to starting Rosamunde Pilcher’s September soon. I’m not sure if it is regarded as a sequel but it certainly has one of the characters in it.

I had intended to review this book around about St Andrew’s Day (Nov 30) – but I decided to read September for that date as that book is actually set in Scotland.

Willa Cather and others

I’m going to start reading Willa Cather’s Death of the Archbishop soon, so I was really chuffed when I paid a call on Christopher at ProSe last night and discovered that his new post was about his recent visit to Nebraska and Red Cloud, where Willa lived. His photographs are lovely and the houses are perfectly American, picket fence and all.

So if you’ve missed it, do yourself a favour and have a peek now. One of the houses featured is linked with the book My Antonia and is in need of some TLC apparently as is Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Edinburgh, which you can see here. It really annoys me when literary history is just left to rot like this.

On the reading front, I’ve just finished Ian Rankin’s Let It Bleed. Does anybody else want to join in with the discussion on this book over at Judith’s ? (Reader in the Wilderness) I’m usually more of a vintage crime lass but I think I’m really going to get into the Rebus books.

I’m now nearly half way through Dracula and I’m really surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. Last night I decided to read War and Peace, I’ve been putting it off for years and the only way of doing it is to have a deadline, I think I have to finish it by January the 19th when there is going to be a discussion on it.

Last but not least, The Classics Circuit has started up again after a bit of a rest and the next tour is a Trollope one. I’ve signed up to read either The Belton Estate or The Claverings, which happen to be the only two of his which I have in the house but haven’t read yet.

I mustn’t forget Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers either.


The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

I’ve been meaning to get around to reading The Shell Seekers for absolutely donkey’s years but I was really surprised to see that it is number 50 in the BBC Top 100 Books list.

Does anybody fancy joining in reading The Shell Seekers together and having a bit of a chat about it, possibly on November the 30th, which is St Andrew’s day! If so, let me know.

This book would fit in with any Scottish challenges, personal or otherwise, that are going on at the moment. Although Rosamund Pilcher was born in England she has lived in Scotland (Dundee) for most of her adult life. The Shell Seekers was a best seller when it was first published in 1987 and has been translated into lots of languages. It’s particularly popular in Germany, my childhood German pen-pal is a big fan of the book. Which was a surprise to me because it is set in London and Cornwall from World War II until the present day (1987).

It’s a bit of a doorstop at 509 pages but I think it’ll be easy reading and the end of November seems quite far away at the moment. No doubt it will gallop up to us in a flash though.