I love the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher. She has such a way of incorporating lovely domestic detail into the lives of her characters that I find homey and gracious. Rosamunde herself is a gracious lady; retired from writing and living in Scotland now, she still takes time to respond to fan letters – I have a charming note from her pinned to my bulletin board as I type this.
Here’s a passage from her novel, The Shell Seekers (orig. published St. Martin’s Press, also available as a Dell paperback, which is what I have) –
Richard was gone. Penelope learned to live without him, because there was no alternative. You couldn’t say, “I can’t bear it,” because if you didn’t bear it, the only other thing to do was to stop the world and get off, and there did not seem to be any practical way to do this. To fill the void and occupy her hands and mind, she did what women under stress and in times of anxiety have been doing for centuries: immersed herself in domesticity and family life. Physical activity proved a mundane but comforting therapy. She cleaned the house from attic to cellar, washed blankets, dug the garden. It did not stop her from wanting Richard, but at least, at the end of it, she had a shining, sweet-smelling house and two rows of freshly planted young cabbages.
Update Sept 22, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time: A friend emailed to tell me that she thinks this passage is maudlin – but I love it! It always makes me want to sweep the cobwebs out of remote corners of my home, and to go out and plant cabbages, no matter what time of year it is.