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Brokaw: Beloved books take over small screen

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Daily Herald | Jun 29, 2022

Courtesy photo

Rosamunde Pilcher's Four Seasons is streaming now Acorn TV.

Best-selling author Rosamunde Pilcher penned 26 novels in her lifetime, and about a dozen of them have been turned into films. Readers and viewers can watch few of her popular stories now on Acorn TV.

Four Seasons (2008)

Set in the Cornish Coast, this four-part story focuses on the Combes family, and their lavish estate named Endellion. The patriarch of the family, Alexander (Frank Finlay), and his two sons, Charles (Tom Conti) and Stephen (Michael York), reside on the estate, along with the help — namely Mrs. Webber (Angela Douglas), who is also in a relationship with Alexander. Alexander’s sister Florence (Juliet Mills) is a frequent visitor to Endellion, as is Stephen’s granddaughter Abby (Paula Kalenberg). Abby’s mother is presumed dead.

With Alexander’s advancing age, the future of Endellion is uncertain. Will he leave it to his eldest son Stephen? Or will it go to Charles, the son with the most integrity?

When Steven’s ex-wife Julia (Senta Berger) returns to the family estate after having been banished years earlier, the family encounters a turbulent time.

Family secrets and skeletons in their closets are revealed in this enticing tale of family, wealth, greed, and misery. In the end, the generations must unite in a common goal of family and love.

This is a story that beckons to be seen in consecutive nights. It is a fascinating story of familial relations and, ultimately, familial bonding.

The Shell Seekers (2006)

After a heart attack, Penelope Keeling (Vanessa Redgrave) returns to her country cottage to the chagrin of her children: Nancy (Victoria Hamilton), Noel (Charles Edwards, and Olivia (Victoria Smurfit) who are worried about her being alone. But this tough woman has a mind of her own.

Her three children are nothing like each other. Nancy is a jealous woman who must keep up with the Jones’ — even though her bank account is running dry. Noel is a greedy, backstabbing lad who only wants to get his hands on his inheritance and his grandfather’s extremely valuable paintings. And Olivia is a free spirit who could care less about the money. Their grandfather (Maximilian Schell) was a kind soul, and in flashbacks viewers see the love he had for his daughter Penelope.

After Olivia’s boyfriend is killed, she takes on the responsibility of his daughter Antonia (Stephanie Stumph), who forms a bond with Penelope. While the siblings are dealing with their own lives (Nancy and Noel are figuring out how to separate their mother from her money), the family struggles with their futures. But Penelope is not a woman to be taken lightly. She is a woman of substance, and knows how conniving two of her children can be. So what will happen to her fortune? She has the last word, and the last laugh.

Coming Home (1998)

This is another story of family and friendships. With an A-list cast, the film is a study in turmoil and tragedy, taking place before, during and after World War II.

Judith (Kiera Knightly as the young girl and Emily Mortimer as the adult woman) is sent to boarding school where she forms a lifelong friendship with Loveday (Katie Ryder Richardson). After Loveday brings Judith to her family home, Nancherrow, Judith becomes one of the family. Peter O’Toole and Joanna Lumley play Loveday’s parents who are always welcoming new friends into the house.

As Judith and Loveday mature, they learn about love and loss. Paul Bettany shines as Loveday’s brother and George Asprey is the family friend — both of whom have eyes for Judith.

With the war as the backdrop, the tense realities of life and death are front and center.

All three of these stories have family at their core. While she is considered a romance novelist, Pilcher’s stories delve more into the history and culture of the British Isles, as well as the relationships that bring the stories depth and entertainment. With these three stories streaming on Acorn TV, summer entertainment is fulfilled.

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