March 19, 2010

The Empty House

The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher
1973 St. Martin's Press
Finished 3/11/10
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Product Description

When you read a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher you enter a special world where emotions sing from the heart. A world that lovingly captures the ties that bind us to one another-the joys and sorrows, heartbreaks and misunderstandings, and glad, perfect moments when we are in true harmony. A world filled with evocative, engrossing, and above all, enjoyable portraits of people's lives and loves, tenderly laid open for us...
At twenty-seven, Virginia Keile had been through the most intense experiences life had to offer-a magical first love ending in heartbreak, a suitable marriage, motherhood, and widowhood. All she wanted now was to take her daughter and son to a seaside cottage and help them recover. But Virginia's true love was there, waiting, hoping, praying that this time she would be strong enough to seize happiness.

After reading a couple of grim novels about World War II, I decided it was time for something a bit lighter. Earlier this month, Robin mentioned The Empty House and after a quick scan of my shelves, I found my unread copy. This novella is a quick read and was just the ticket to lift my spirits after finishing Skeletons at the Feast.

The Shell Seekers and Winter Solstice remain my favorites (I prefer her lengthier novels to her novellas), but I always enjoy revisiting Pilcher's cozy world of Cornwall.

The building which housed the solicitors' office stood at the top of the hill which led out of Porthkerris, but even so Virginia was taken unawares by the marvellous view which leapt at her as soon as she walked into the room. Mr. Williams's desk stood in the middle of the carpet and Mr. Williams was, even now, getting to his feet behind it. But, beyond Mr. Williams, a great picture-window framed, like some lovely painting, the whole jumbled, charming panorama of the old part of the town. Roofs of houses, faded slate and whitewashed chimneys, tumbled without pattern or order down the hill. Here a blue door, there a yellow window; here a window-sill bright with geraniums, a line of washing gay as flags, or the leaves of some unsuspected and normally unseen tree. Beyond the roofs and far below them was the harbour, at full tide and sparkling with sunshine. Boats rocked at anchor and a white sail sped out beyond the shelter of the harbour wall, heading for the ruler line of the horizon where the two blues met. The air was clamorous with the sound of gulls, the sky patterned with their great gliding wings and as Virginia stood there, the church bells from the Normal tower struck up a simple carillon and clock chimes range out eleven o'clock.

I've already begun to forget the details of The Empty House, but its gentle story provided me with a few hours of peace.

Final thoughts: The guilty pleasure of a fluffy romance.

Wonder if I can talk my husband into a vacation here!


  1. I wrote about this in my journal five years ago:

    'The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher 1973
    Books on Tape read by Donada Peters
    Fiction B
    I bought this book, but won't keep it. I had thought this was one of my favorite R. Pilcher books, but I wasn't as impressed on this reading. I still enjoyed the book but its charm for me lies more in the descriptions of home and countryside rather than in the actual story. It was an okay book - a little like a Thomas Hardy misunderstanding with a happy ending. It was pleasant enough listening to it, but I probably won't read the book again.'

    From your review, you seem to feel about the same.

    I was in Cornwall once, back in 1977 when we got married, and it is as beautiful as she so often describes. My current love is Port Isaac where Doc Martin is set. How we love that British series (several seasons are on dvd).

  2. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I am a Pilcher lover as well, but I haven't read any of her shorter works. You might see some Pilcher on my weekly nostalgia posts. I love The Shell Seekers, September, and Coming Home.

  3. Nan - Did you send me your copy? The timing would've been about right. I have no idea where I picked it up. I agree. It's an okay book, but nothing special. Certainly not one I'd read again. So, we agree! :)

    Off to look at Doc Martin on Netflix...

    Kay - Would you like my copy? I'd be happy to send it to you.

  4. Anonymous1:41 PM

    No, I don't think so. Too many here and I don't think I would care for the shorter ones probably. Thanks anyway!

  5. Maybe I got you a copy, but mine is still on the shelf with my other RP books. :<) I must have decided I didn't want to give it up.

  6. Kay - You're welcome. I'll toss it in my box to go to the library sale.

    Nan - Well, I'm not going to keep mine. See my note above. :)

  7. STILL haven't read a Pilcher book. I have about 4 or 5 waiting, but not jumping out at me. Someday.

  8. Joy - If you only read one, I strongly recommend The Shell Seekers. I don't think any of her others are half as good. Kind of like Anne Rivers Siddons and Colony.


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