Against the beauty of Cornwall, a story of two women struggling with their past: one cannot remember hers, the other cannot forget…
When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful – Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in.
Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family’s last summer there more than ten years ago.
Both women will learn that memories live in our hearts and that sharing secrets can set you free… But can they find their way back to the things that are truly important to them?
The perfect escapist read for fans of Rachel Hore, Lucinda Riley and Rosanna Ley.
As a huge Liz Fenwick fan since first discovering her debut, The Cornish House five years ago, I eagerly await the publication of each new book she writes. I’m really pleased to say that I loved her new book, One Cornish Summer, which has all the things I’ve grown to love about Liz Fenwick’s stories.
This book captures the magical atmospheric essence of Cornwall that only those who have visited Cornwall can truly understand. Helwyn House, locally known as Hell House in the book, comes to life as it wraps itself around the characters and refuses to let go. The old ruin of a house with its loggia (I’ve learnt a new word) and overgrown garden felt so mystical. I loved how Lucy used to think it was haunted, and how the little girl in her was still spooked by the place. Whereas her aunt, Hebe, on the other hand, only seemed able to love and see potential in the house. Those who have read Liz Fenwick’s previous books will be aware of the importance buildings and locations play in the storyline, and One Cornish Summer is no different. I didn’t realise until after reading this book that Helwyn House is inspired by Godolphin House, which perhaps is not the most grand of National Trust houses. For a somewhat impressive country house it has a less extravagant and more humble feel to it, and that really came across in this novel.
There are some great characters in this book. Hebe and her niece, Lucy have well-hidden secrets and struggles to face, as Hebe is forced to deal with health issues, while Lucy is running away from a life that hasn’t quite gone to plan. The character I related to most was Hebe because of her memory issues. I’m always making lists too. I was reading this book witnessing her struggle with her memory loss, and thought how unfortunate it is that I will rapidly forget most of this book soon after finishing reading it, and may eventually forget Hebe, unless someone reminds me of her or I look back on the scribbles in my notebook used as a reminder to help me write my review. Seeing what Hebe was going through was the hardest and most emotional part of this story for me. However, although I did have tears in my eyes near the end, One Cornish Summer was definitely gentler on my emotions than The Returning Tide, which had me in pieces, so that was a relief in a way.
Even though there is a very serious side to this story, it also has a positive feel to it, making me smile and giggle in places, be it comments about pesky brambles and chin-high nettles (don’t even get me started on those. I have fallen out of love with gardening thanks to their ruthless and brutal behaviour), and that there are hardly any shops to buy clothes down here. It’s true. If it wasn’t for Seasalt I’d probably be walking around naked by now! Oh, and I bet I’m not the only person who pictures Kit Harrington every time Kit Williams is on the page. A bit of eye candy always helps to keep the heart fluttering.
I know when it comes to Liz Fenwick books I’m probably beginning to sound like a scratched record on constant repeat, but if you love her previous books, or haven’t yet read anything by her but enjoy character led stories and the intrigue and magic of Cornwall, then I highly recommend One Cornish Summer (as well as all her previous books).
Here are some photos of Godolphin House when I visited it in May 2012
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