Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short Stories on Wednesdays - The Watershed by Rosamunde Pilcher

This Wednesday's short story is The Watershed by Rosamunde Pilcher from a collection called Flowers In The Rain & Other Stories. The book was published in 1991, and the The Watershed was published as "The Anniversary Surprise" in Redbook, February 1990.

The children of Edwina and Henry are grown and living their own lives. As their 30th wedding anniversary approaches, Edwina feels as if 'from now on it's downhill all the way.'

She finds herself interested in a house whose owner has just died. It is smaller than her country home, with a 'strip of garden' which would be simple to take care of. It is in the village so she could easily do her shopping and errands. But she knows her husband will not want to move. He inherited Hill House, and has lived there his entire life.

She walks around her house that was 'always too big for us, even with the three children living at home,' full of wonderful memories of dinners in the dining room which is now rarely used.
The house was a monument to family life. To a family of children who were children no longer. How had the years swept by so swiftly?
If your children are grown you will know this particular feeling, and if they aren't you will know it one day. Edwina is restless, uneasy, wondering what the years ahead will bring.

The ending is most satisfactory, offering Edwina a view of a different, yet happy and hopeful future.

The story is filled with the description which Rosamunde Pilcher is so well-known for.
Edwina knew the house. Had known Mrs. Titchfield for years. Had sometimes called to collect a pie for the church sale, or to deliver a Christmas card and a fruit-cake, and be asked indoors to sit by the fire with a cup of tea.

Parking the car in the stable yard, Edwina carried the groceries indoors. The kitchen was huge and homey, with a dresser stacked with ironstone china, a basket of laundry waiting to be ironed, and the two Labradors waiting to be taken for a walk.
I began reading Rosamunde Pilcher's work more than twenty years ago, and there is still no one who can touch her for telling a good story, with real people, and the most wonderful details which place the reader in a particular room (so often a great kitchen!) or out in the countryside. She will be 87 next month, and though she doesn't have a web page her son Robin does, and occasionally writes about his mother.


  1. I love Pilcher. I didn't realize that she wrote short stories too. I can identify with the house getting quieter as each child grows up and moves on.

  2. Staci, she has another collection called The Blue Bedroom and Other Stories, which I don't own and haven't read yet. If you love her work, you will surely love Flowers In The Rain (as long as you like short stories).

  3. I love Pilcher, too! I believe I still have Coming Home to read. And then I'll start back in with my favorite, The Shell Seekers. It's been over 20 years since I read that wonderful, wonderful novel.

  4. I remember, Les, that you didn't like her short stories, but I think it's because you don't care for the genre. I do like TSS, but I can't stand those kids. Selfish louts!

  5. I had no idea Rosamunde Pilcher wrote short stories! The Shell Seekers was a favorite (20 years ago?) and I enjoyed several of her other novels, too. With our twins starting college and Daughter #1 finishing next year, I can certainly relate to those quotes. It may be time for me to 'rediscover' this author.

  6. JoAnn, I've read all the stories in this collection probably two or three times, and I love them.

  7. With limited space, I don't keep much fiction, but it is my yearly ritual to reread September at the close of summer, and Winter Solstice around the first of December

  8. Wasn't there a book called "September" by Rosamunde Pilcher? I seem to remember having read that, as well as some short stories, in the 1990s, and I liked both, the book and the short stories - just not quite enough for me wanting to read her other books as well.
    There have been made some surprisingly good adaptions of her stories for German TV, and I always find it funny how people claim they "only watch it for the wonderful landscape in Cornwall and elsewhere in England", instead of amitting they simply like a cozy film every now and then, without having to engage too much intellectually.

  9. I've read and enjoyed her for years and years, and I agree she is right up at the top for a good story. I haven't read her short stories, but now I will :)
    have a wonderful day,

  10. Another author to check out! I love writers who focus on homey details and who have a great feel for their characters.

  11. I love her books too, the gentle irony and observation of small often domestic details.Thank you for the link to Robin's page.

  12. Crownover, I really love Winter Solstice (well, except for the accident at the start - couldn't she have written it without that sadness?!) and have read it a few times,but September I had a hard time with. It's been a long time, but I think Noel from The Shell Seekers is in it, right?? And I so couldn't stand him in the first book. But you know what I ought to do is read both of them again, one after the other.

    Yes, Librarian. And I've been reading on the internet how huge she is in Germany!

    Niki, I'm quite sure you will really, really enjoy this book. The stories are wonderful.

    lgraves, well that's Rosamunde Pilcher, for sure! And her son, Robin is a very good writer himself. I've read a few and liked them very much.

    Carole, have you read his books? He seems like a wonderful man.

  13. and the most wonderful details which place the reader in a particular room

    There aren't many authors who can do this well. Another one I discovered over the past year is Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, who often wrote beautifully about interior spaces and the quiet overlooked women who carve out a life in them.

    I'll look into Pilcher's stories.

  14. Rosamunde Pilcher has long been one of my favorite comfort reads---the homely details of houses and gardens adding so much to her stories.
    I have many of them in audiobook form--on cassette--now I need to learn how to convert them to CD--I like audio books when I'm sewing.

  15. HKatz, where did I just see a book that had stories by her and Sarah Orne Jewett?? I can't seem to find the blog right now. There was a picture of book with both their works in it. Anyhow, I really love SOJ, so if they are teamed together, and with your enthusiasm about her, I shall check out her writing. Thanks.

  16. Morning's Minion, I wouldn't mind a book that was all such details with barely a plot at all. :<)

  17. I love her books.
    Have most of them
    My favorite
    "The Shell Seekers"
    I have read a number of times
    and you just reminded me
    I will read one cold winter day.
    Thank you....

  18. Ernestine, that sounds good to me. Maybe I'll do the same! If you haven't read these stories, I think you'll like them.


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