News article from 2004

A Dear Soul Person

by Franziska K. Müller   May 20, 2004
Originally in German, found in a swiss newspaper, no link available. Translated by Jakob, thank you.

On May 20, 2004, Princess Marissa zu Bentheim-Tecklenburg invited Rosamunde and Graham Pilcher to her castle in Germany. She is Graham's grand-niece.

RP's books can be read as they are written on rose petal. With her, heart is always rhyming with sweet pain. The nearly 80 year-old sky-blue tempered woman, gives million of people power for their own life. Thank you.

Her best-sellers "The Shell Seekers", "September" and "Wild Mountain Thyme" were sold 15 million times all over the world. 7 million of viewer, most of them women, watched to the film at Sunday evening on the German TV. When in the Scottish upper middle class, false love, avarice, dispute within the families makes trouble and unhappiness, the RP fans knows with certitude that comfort, trust and friendship will win at the ending. "No drugs death, not one drop of blood" praised the magazine Illustrierte Bunte the successful British author with the German sounding name.

RP is yawning. She is still drowsy. The 79 year-old was arriving from Scotland the day before. She was invited by her relatives on Rheda Castle at the little Westphalian town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Now she is toddling with little steps to a ornate sofa. From the ceiling of a baroque hall dangle a crystal lustre. Gloomy wallpaper adorn the room. "A wonderful day" says the author and point her finger to the window. The sky over Germany is grey. It's drizzling.

"Dew drops are on the roses", assert Mrs Pilcher, that made shortly before a walk through the park. She pick a invisible fluff from her woollen jacket and smiles. Untamed optimism and a inclination to put things on an orderly basis - from styled bush hedges to the perfect crisped outside of roast lamb up to the babys they born nine month after the wedding night, made the old British Lady to the most reading author of the present time.

The straight silver grey hair cut at chin length stuck with little combs to the back. A blue pleated skirt and comfortable shoes indicated more of a informal night in front of a fire place then a week end in high society atmosphere. At her neck swing a long chain with a fold-back medallion. We can bit three pheasant that behind the oval cap will be the image of her husband Graham, that is married nearly 60 years with her. Or as well one of her four children. " Totally wrong" says RP vigorously, during she hold the piece of jewelry closed in her hand.

A mineral water and two glasses are put on the table. She looks with morose glance of the barren place setting.

The magnificent house with his surroundings and his owner could give a quite good pattern for a new novel. Princess Marissa to Bentheim-Tecklenburg is a great-nice of Graham Pilcher. The 30 year-old pretty British woman in a non-ironed Prada-skirt and flat-bottomed shoes, steps quickly through the chamber. Prince Maximilian looks like a younger edition of Christoph Schlingensief. Although he is an adherent of the traditional values he allows her wife to open a Biergarten ( Beer garden) and a castle-shop. The prince an princess call RP " aunt ". RP call them "a lovely couple".

On this week end the castle owner hold a three days feast. At the early morning, supplier, servant and decorator are occupied to make the big park to a party garden with selling points for the better way of life lover. The climax of the feast is undoubtedly the presence of the best-seller author. She is guest of honour and the crowd puller.

She had to sign the golden book of the town. And she will dedicate hundred of books. Already we baptised a rose to her name. " an old-fashioned sort with opulent blossom and few thorn" says RP in a hoarsely voice. She yawn again. "That feast was Marissa's idea". That was not an accusation but a praise to her. The thought that even member of the nobility endeavour to make the best of bad financial situation makes RP enthusiastic. Intelligent, but not a know-it-all, able but never determinant, also goes her books heroine through the life.

The job description notebook of female figure includes, clearing out broom cupboard and polish wooden floor as well share out advices, comfort and company. When the women put down their apron and garden clothes, appear beneath them beautiful clothes from grand Couturiers. They brushes their hair with a silver brush coming out from a family treasure. Linen smells of lavender, and CD's are still called disc. For good school report the child receive the suede lumberjack that he longed-for. And when the men comes home after work in the evening, the ice cube are already tinkling in the Whisky glasses.

But still the upper middle class is not immune against money troubles. But for antique furniture and regularly shopping by Harrods it is enough money after all, in her books. The result is that, that way a huge among of luxuries are accumulate in all area of life. They are described with great love to the details and a keenness on brand, that only Bret Easton Ellis in her literary horror novel "American Psycho" could take up, until today.

The Pilcher men -often absent or working in the background -determine the pace who things happens as they figure as main cause of problems. They are inconstant in their feelings and they will big cars. They stamp like stubborn little children over the social trading floor or through the Scottish Highlands. On business affair they are seldom talented. On private life they says phrases like that "Babys don't cost money". And when they have to go on war or they lose through speculation the family fortune. "Darling, don't bother, the rent for the coming month is paid." They are unworldly, narcissistic and predictable. "That is why they have to be touch with velvet gloves" explain Mrs Pilcher "Otherwise we don't come to the aim with they".

The idea that feminine ability to compromise and cheerful mediation can resolve almost all conflicts -which are swarming in her novels, RP shows that with dozens of example. The basic main figures are, mother, mother in law and grand mother with patience, discipline and diligence, Also when the perfection they are striving for is going to be an illusion at the latest when the children goes older, they keep imperturbable optimistic.

"Together with monogram embroidered napkins, the furs, the funny cars and other status symbols its all about the happiness of these women and the way they get them", says the author and concede, "Only one figure in the Shell Seekers could got enough of that". Figures that they don't deal with the rule of the game, sometimes dies out of her books in an ordinary way.

Abundance, beauty, proposals, children, blessing break from time to time, unexpected by the other, and the message is clear like the windows in the houses of the responsible. When you will force more than what is entitled to you, you will get nothing at the end.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung ( South German Newspaper ) attempt to confront RP with the facts of the new age and the feelings of emancipated women and mothers failed pitiful. The paper put Pilcher together with the merciless, unromantic Fay Weldon at the same table and let the authors discuss with each other. Fay Weldon thought "Motherhood is a lifelong failure, which we have to settle with", when RP report from an only unpleasant experience with her daughter: The 17 year-old refused to go to the university and went away to the city. To further prejudices about men and against minors she react with lack of understanding: "Graham is - except little faults - the best man that ever was, and I love children. I find them incredible interesting. They brighten me up".

What is speaking out of the heart from a huge fan community or at least give good entertaining hours in a comforting and well-bred world, let the hair's standing on end of the feature writer. "We have only to compare the books from John Updike, which describe also family life with the books from RP to see the line between literary and writing", criticized the FAZ as the British author reach the Best-Seller list of the German news magazine Spiegel. And "All what is disturbing on the life, love, death, what can't be domesticated or even not be understanding, don't appears by Pilcher". Further the South German paper wrote: "Distrust is always a part in her books. That is why her fundamental philosophy is so seductive: The world is not intact, but curable".

Neither praise nor reproach takes a visible echo from the success author. She is sitting on the sofa with crossed hands and mumble, she have never need someone that have to encouraged her to write. But she don't let anybody to hold her back to write. All of a sudden she wrinkles her forehead and looks with her striking bright eyes far away. She is thinking about the different qualities of books and the reading-effect they have. "How many copies of clever books from Stephen Hawkings are never been read, all over the world and lies on a coffee table?" ask she after a longer pause and then say. "Hundred of thousand".

She smiles, content to have had that good idea and wish away a drop of water from the tabletop. RP assert that now she makes a break at writing. That can be true or not. It would not be the first time that she, without any announce, put a mammoth-manuscript on the table.

As her family and friends, fifty years ago, didn't recognize her literary essay, she began to write secretly. She wrote when Graham was at work, the four children were in school, the curtains smoothly fluttered in the wind, the cooking already on the cooker -Pilcher is an enthusiastic and an excellent cook. Or when Graham was hunting grouses. "It was easy. I sat me down at the writing-machine and I continued there where I had break off the day before" she says. And she wrote that way the next thirty years totally self-sufficient, without any exchange with other writers.

"Acquaintances thought that I had stopped with this stupid writing" she says, gloating. With that she had her peace, far away from the temptations and aberration of the modern women way of life. "I never had something to do with glossy magazine, running away wives or such things" she says, describing her biggest imagination of the contemporary frivolity. Two times she went in a city. 1942 she came to Ceylon, as she was in the Women's Royal Naval, where she done her military service. Later she lived two month in London. Both was awful.

The author printed hundreds of short stories, thirty novels and a few heavy weighty books. "So what?" says RP "I had never difficulties to write, unimaginativeness or self-doubt". At her view that are luxury problems, they can be controlled with a little bit of self-discipline. She doesn't like any sort of luxury. With the first money she earned, she bought a tractor. Of the the question, for what she like spending money today, RP answers: "For fuel oil, because I like good heated rooms".

She is only interesting at the edge of contemporary books. "The Bonfire of the Vanities" the best-seller from the just a bit younger, American colleague, Tom Wolfe, is only one modern novel she read to the end. "Awful", is her opinion. "That's the kind of story who people get lousy and more lousy". As well the most young authors are a thorn in her flesh. "The more the condition are rotten, the bigger is the chance, to come through as a serious artist" she says and wave disparagingly with the hand: "But, please: There are talented people, they prefer live in a broom cupboard instead to get ready for a neat home" The antipathy is mutual. Whenever young authors see her at receptions, they gives her the impression to be: "an old stupid bag" says RP.

Few years ago she called the important literature club PEN "a union of chatterer they don't have any idea of writing". The British literary scene shriek out. Before that RP was treated as a harmless old woman. This image correction was not important for her. Nevertheless, she promise in future to be more gentle in the way to deal with her unloved colleagues. "Well, to act more politely". Not because of better insight, but because she didn't need a artificial turmoil that we talked about her. She is right. Whenever a new Pilcher is published, entire pages of criticisms are assured in the international magazines to the Queen of pain in the heart (Annabelle). Most of they are outraged comments they try to find out, why she have so much success with her modest literary family stories.

Escape of the reality of double earning generation, could be a possible reason, was said: people they eat sushi and pizzas, they let a Puerto Rican cleaning lady keep tidy the penthouse, they can't make the difference between a skylark and a bluetit. And however they are suddenly take by a life, where chimneys smokes, people are hearty, lamb roast turn over the fire, where hay is cut with a sickle.

A other group of readers was found by people living in social houses. Even they will go within a better world by reading and focus more of lifestyle than of the living in countryside, their sons aren't gang goers but men they give women gold coloured things.

"Rejection of mediocrity" says the FAZ and give the reader community a dressing-down: "at least you have to know what you are consuming there: sedative, tranquillizer".

As RP published the first big family saga "The Shell Seekers" in the USA, the author was 64 year-old. The risk that the unhip reading matter will move soon to the bottom of the book shelves in the bookshop was enormous. The budget didn't allow a big promotion. Because of that, at least was spread a huge fan community because her books were distributed from her American publisher in hundreds of little shops they weren't necessary bookshops. These shop were mostly took by older ladies they had few years before a household and grew up children and now in their old age had realized her dream to have her own shop.

They found the novel so good that they recommended them to their female consumers and this women gave the book as gift to her friends. "Within three weeks the novel, The Shell Seekers, was on the best-sellers list in the New York Times and began to be successful all over the world" says RP. After her first publication, she receives about five thousand letters from the US readers. This country is until today her best sales market. "The American ladies are the queens, when it matters to idealize the family and their members life" says RP and sound almost like her critics. "They send these beautiful glittering Christmas cards and tell how dad had a wonderful year in the office, that mummy play tennis in women club and that junior is passing the test to scuba diving".

In the letters they came from the USA to Scotland, was writing totally other things, tells the receiver of these letters, visibly amused: Fathers got ill. My son is homosexual. My mother is going away. The British woman says "My books are real taboo breakers". Of course not by every woman, that let her husband do the house keeping after end of work. But an old neglect literary generation, on the base of their description, see and accept that dream of perfect family life is a soap bubble. "Today these people dare to talk from their negative feelings and their difficulties in the day life, without having fear to be a looser".

Here RP says something that even the astute analyst of her books didn't see. In her family novels was a message between the lines, that can only found by readers they can feel like her heroine. The message is: "Grown-up sons and daughters can be real pain in the neck, we don't stop to love the own children. But in truth, we don't like them at all when they are adults" And then she laughs without stopping.

Marrisa goes for the second time through the baroque room. The assistant press to ending. Later RP will sign the golden book of Rheda-Wiedenbrück and smiling to the mayor when he says: "Your wonderful books help us to support difficulties in our life".