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The Shell Seekers cover art

The Shell Seekers

Written by: Rosamunde Pilcher
Narrated by: Hayley Atwell
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Publisher's Summary

Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers is "a huge warm saga...A deeply satisfying story written with love and confidence" (Maeve Binchy in The New York Times Book Review).

The Shell Seekers was adapted twice to film (1989 and 2006).

An instant bestseller when it was first published, The Shell Seekers is an enduring classic which has touched the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. A novel of connection, it is the story of one family—mothers and daughters, husbands and lovers—and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. This magical novel—the kind of reading experience that comes along only once in a long while—is the perfect story, whether you are returning to it again, or opening the cover for the first time.

At the end of a long and useful life, Penelope Keeling's prized possession is The Shell Seekers, painted by her father, and symbolizing her unconventional life, from bohemian childhood to wartime romance. When her grown children learn their grandfather's work is now worth a fortune, each has an idea as to what Penelope should do. But as she recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life, she knows there is only one answer...and it lies in her heart.

©1987 Rosamunde Pilcher (P)2017 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.

What the critics say

“A HUGE, WARM SAGA...A deeply satisfying story written with love.” —The New York Times Book Review


“BEAUTIFULLY DONE...A book about families...When the reader closes the book, it is with a sense of regret-- regret that there is no more.” —Boston Herald

“A LOVELY STORY, the best, really absorbing book I've read in a long time, the kind you hate to put down and especially hate to finish.” —Atlanta Journal & Constitution

What listeners say about The Shell Seekers

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Full of art and masterful too

This is a wonderful epic family story. I love the characters, so detailed and emotional and true. Careful descriptions of English gardens, food and life are so vivid, I feel like I've been there! The narration is flawless, with subtle yet unmistakable vocal variations between characters, male and female roles both read consistently and with ease. Have already recommended this book, and will continue to do so!

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4 people found this helpful

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A nice old story, with a great new twist.

I first read this book years ago in my 20's. It was good then and is still good now in my 60's.
(although I think the sixties are quite a bit younger now.) It is a comforting story set in the England countryside. Having it read to me on Audible was really a treat. Penelope and her children & all the other characters really came alive in a new way. Hayley Atwell's reading of the story made it so charming. It gave the story a wonderful new dimension. I loved it!

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1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully written and excellent narration

I loved everything about this story. The dynamics surrounding the character’s are so very real and believable. The love and heartbreak full of emotion and the vivid descriptions of the art, the landscapes the food, the war, everything….were told with such detail that I could visualize it clearly. The narration was excellent!

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  • Overall
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Good story, ok naration.

While I really enjoyed the story, I am left a bit less enthusiastic about the naration. I never loss the knowledge I was being read to. Ive listened to numerous books and as usually swept away to foreign lands and into intriguing stories, with this one it was always close in my mind this was a story I was listening to. I never "got lost" in the story because of this. I think at some point I will listen to another of this authors stories in hopes of losing myself in the details cause I did like the story.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Joy to Listen to

Wonderful characters, beautiful vivid setting. Brought me peace and a break from today’s complicated world

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A story that pulls you in

Engaging characters, very well written story, read perfectly! I was very sorry to see the book end and not have a sequel!

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  • Overall
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Classic

This is a wonderful novel with lots of delicious details. The performance is outstanding. You won’t want to stop listening.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dan
  • 2022-08-25

An enjoyable listen

I enjoyed listening to a favourite book. Marred at times by the narrator’s mispronouncing some words.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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The Shell Seekers

This book is well organized to ensure that the reader knows all of the characters. Every chapter induced the reader to be interested in each one. I enjoyed it very much.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Engaging Story

True to the author's reputation. Well developed characters whose lives intertwine. Not everyone is likeable and sad things happen, but there is no evil here. A compassionately told tale evocative of place and time.

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  • TB
  • 2018-01-18

Narrator Speed

The narrator spoke extremely fast. I found that it was a much better listen when I slowed it down to .75.

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66 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • LINN CANNING
  • 2018-01-22

Back again

I read this book some twenty or thirty years ago and remembered how much I enjoyed it but didn't remember why. So, going back again, but to audio now. I'm glad I did because the woman reading the story did so with immense expression and dignity.

In my younger days imagine my love of the story was a teaching of how to age with grace even with struggles and people you love not quite reaching your perceived Potencial. That still rings true for me now, but more so is that the lead character held onto her self, intuitions, and basic decency. This I take with me and am thankful for Ms. Pilcher's gift.

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59 people found this helpful

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  • Gary & Jay
  • 2018-03-01

One of my first thoughts was...

"God, if I wanted to be back fighting with my family, I'd just call them up!" 😆

And then I fell into this story and enjoyed every second in its warm kitchens and wraparound gardens.

Hayley Atwell does the many characters proud, and I, like many others, was sorry when it all came to an end.

I certainly will read more of Ms. Pilcher's novels, and will follow Ms Atwell also.

Jay Thomas

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  • TW
  • 2018-03-18

Life As A Battleground

I read this book decades ago when it was first published in print and I enjoyed it at the time. I was really excited to find an unabridged version here on audible. Pilcher paints beautiful word images describing the countryside, the garden, the beach, and the kitchen. My problem lies in the repetitive nature of these descriptions--after a few times around it all sounds the same. For example, there were at least four dinners or lunches of roast leg of lamb with baby potatoes. Each time this meal was described I groaned and thought--oh surely they aren't eating lamb again.

Overall, I was depressed by this story. I found the constant family fighting and nastiness tedious to listen to. So much whining and plotting and criticizing--it was just awful. At one point in the book the main character's mother explains that she is sorry she can't help but her own life is the only thing that matters. I guess this self-centered and selfish focus playing out over four generations of a family and the havoc it created was part of Pilcher's plan. To me it just served to make the characters completely unlikeable and the sweeping saga tiresome.

I have almost three hours still to go and I find that I can't finish listening to this book. I couldn't care less what happens next. Part of me wonders if the narration played a role in how awful everyone sounded? It might have helped to drive the negativity over the top. I'm just sorry that I stuck with it as long as I did.

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31 people found this helpful

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  • Reader
  • 2020-01-29

Story was great, narrator was infuriating

My issue was with the narration, not the story. Story was nice, characters were wonderful, Rosamunde Pilcher is a brilliant author, etc etc.

This bleeping narrator though. She goes from inaudible whispering to practically shouting. Every minute of the audiobook is a different volume. I'm trying to listen with headphones in at work, and I'm constantly turning the volume up when she's whispering, only to have to snatch the headphones off when she screams the following sentence into my eardrum. I don't know who gave her the okay to do that, but it's enough to drive a listener insane.

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  • WAYNE
  • 2017-12-20

Wonderful story & writing

I read this when it first came out years ago. To listen to it was so pleasurable. The narration was good. It is frightfully pricey so I was glad to have a credit to use. But the novel is so beautiful, Rich with description and color. I highly recommend it.

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24 people found this helpful

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  • Judy
  • 2018-12-30

The Sound was poor

This is the second time I listened to this book. The first time, I got the book from the library. That was many years ago. The library no longer carries this book. So I listened to the book via Audible. The sound was irritating: it would jump from being too loud or too low and hard to understand. I could only get through the book by constantly changing the sound level.

It is too bad, because this is favorite author.

Judy

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  • N. C.
  • 2018-01-11

One of Pilcher's finest works.

I waited over 20 years for this audiobook to be re-released to the U.S. Market. The Shell Seekers is among the top 10 all my all time time favorite stories. The characters of Noel and Nancy are just too self absorbed, selfish, money grubbing and greedy . . . you just love to hate them.
The first time I listened to this in the late 80's/early 90's I believe that it was the Barbara Rosenblat recording, which was both brilliant and vibrant. It seemed far longer and more sweeping than Ms. Atwell's reading. That being said though, Ms. Atwell did a fine job.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone that loves a good read with very realistic characters.

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  • Frances
  • 2017-12-28

Lovely

Rosamunde Pilcher is an author I adore. I was so happy to see unabridged version appear and I was not disappointed. The production values were excellent and I was not disappointed.

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16 people found this helpful

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  • Dylan
  • 2018-01-15

A Stand Out Performance.

Really stepped out of my comfort zone with this book. And I am really glad I did!
I was enticed here as I am a fan of Hayley Atwell. I really wanted to see how her skills on the screen translated to narrating a book. For that I was really impressed and I hope she continues to do more!
The biggest surprise was that I managed to enjoy the story too! I had no idea this was a well known book - and I really am glad that I found this gem! Highly recommended.

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14 people found this helpful