Rated 5 stars ***** 1987. St. Martin’s Press. 530 pp.
As the story begins readers are introduced to Penelope Keeling who is 64 years old and recovering from a recent heart attack. Her oldest daughter Nancy and son Noel, described as greedy, grasping and overbearing, are the complete opposite of their generous, caring and loving mother. Her second daughter Olivia is a strong businesswoman, understanding her mother’s ways more than her siblings and respectful of how she has chosen to live her life.
Penelope’s most precious possession is a painting called “The Shell Seekers,” painted by her famous father and given to her as a wedding gift. Despite Olivia’s objections Nancy and Noel want to get their hands on the money it would bring at auction but, as Penelope tells her story, it is clear “The Shell Seekers” holds a role in the Keeling household they will never understand.
Through flashbacks and the present time, readers are introduced to a cast of characters going back to World War II when 19 year old Penelope, who had a rather bohemian upbringing by her father Lawrence and his French wife Sophie in the English countryside of Cornwall, decides to join the war effort when World War II landed on their doorstep. War had a way of bringing a bit of happiness amidst its constant sorrow, and Penelope was no stranger to its fickle mind.
“The Shell Seekers” tells an extraordinary tale of the sights and sounds of Cornwall during World War II and the strength of its people which continued to the present day. Penelope is just one of many strong women who tell their story in this tale of despair, hope and love, leaving readers to hope that the characteristics of these women from a bygone era might still be realized in today’s generation.
Recommended for Adult readers.