I enjoyed this long novel on a camping trip. It's definitely easy reading and a page-turner; Pilcher knows how to keep you going. It wasn't great art, but it was a cozy escape. I'm not sure why it's on the BBC's list of top reads though. I can think of at least seven books off-hand that do a much better job of portraying life in Britain during WWII. And the characterizations are a bit thin. Basically, if you're a "good" character, you're beautiful, tall, thin, bohemian, and love the arts. You also don't pursue material comforts, but they fall in your lap anyway, by way of your beauty, tallness, and love of the arts. The "bad" characters have a little more variety, but they tend to be shallow, interested in material possessions, and not a follower of the arts. The plot was interesting, but predictable. I think I was supposed to be surprised at how Penelope disposed of "The Shell Seekers," but I could see it coming early on. In fact, I can only think of one part of the plot that surprised me. Despite this, I don't regret reading it. I understand this is Pilcher's best novel, so I doubt I'll read her others.