25 December 2006
Artist's daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a bohemian childhood in London and the wilds of Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she ever truly loved. She has brought up three very different children: Olivia, her 'special child', who like her mother is both tough and vulnerable; Noel, her ruthless and selfish son, and Nancy, the first born, embittered by greed and jealousy. It is a mild heart-attack that allows the sixty-four year old to take the time to reflect on her past life. Having discharged herself from hospital, the energetic and independent Penelope returns home to her ramshackle cottage in the English countryside. From here she travels to the Mediterranean paradise of Ibiza to stay with Olivia. Here she meets her daughter's lover, Cosmo, and his daughter, the young and beautiful Antonia, all the while reminiscing about her time during the war. The story unfolds like a jigsaw, switching between the 1940's and the present day. We learn of her marriage to Ambrose and the subsequent birth of the three so dissimilar children she has, over time, learned to accept for who they are. And of Richard, the dashing, romantic man she loved and was to marry but ultimately lost to the war. This story of lost love is mirrored in the present by that of Antonia, who comes to live with Penelope, and her love for the mysterious Danus. The secrets, passions and heartbreaks of Penelope's past threaten to be repeated by the young couple unless they can learn from her misfortune and be honest with one and other. It is the discovery that her most treasured possession, her father's painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune though that proves most alarming. For it is only then, as her 'loved ones' gather, that their true characters come to light and Penelope is forced to make the decisions that will determine whether they can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart. This is an adaptation of the work of Rosamunde Pilcher, based on the novel of the same name that has sold over 5 million copies world-wide and propelled her to the top of the international best-seller lists.
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