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Novel set in West Penwith, CORNWALL

5th August 2022

The White Hare by Jane Johnson, novel set in West Penwith, Cornwall.

Novel set in West Penwith, CORNWALL

It is 1954. Grandmother Magda, daughter Mila and granddaughter Janey all decamp from East Dulwich in London to a remote spot in Cornwall.. They have found a run-down property, which they intend to renovate, hoping to make a fresh start. The adult women all have their reasons to decamp and this property seems to suit their needs. The aim is to restore it to its former glory and open it is a BnB the following Spring.

They find tradespeople to work on it but there is growing unease as Mila does the rounds. The locals let it be known that there is something off about the house, they keep their distance, reticent to offer a background story. Have the women bitten off more than they can perhaps chew?

The relationship between Magda and her family is fractious, and clearly Mila under other circumstances would probably not have chosen to embark on this kind of enterprise. The father of her daughter – her ex partner – is living his new life with his new family and their separation has left its mark.

The notion of ‘incomer’ is threaded through the novel. Magda is original Polish and came to England on the ticket of having a child – she can be cantankerous and unfeeling early on, ploughing on regardless and causing Mila untold misgivings about their adventure, but as the story progresses she can perhaps discover her softer side.

The cover is beautiful and already hints at the content. The backdrop for the story – as so often with the author’s work – adds a densely rich and verdant element, a real  atmospheric and textured setting that evokes the countryside of Cornwall. It also lends itself well to the ethereal and dark feel which pervades the novel – flashes of light in peripheral vision, a hare streaks through the undergrowth, the locals know that mythology and folklore is woven into the fabric of the area. The narrative is hugely atmospheric.

In the deepening gloom of the woods a green-white light appears in my peripheral vision and in a whoosh envelops then whips past me. An afterimage zigzags crazily, haloing and expanding, scintillating in a leaping, horned crescent. I feel alight with cold flame’

Can they make this luscious and sometimes forbidding locale their home longterm, and will their goals come to fruition?

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Catch Jane on Twitter @JaneJohnsonBakr and talking about setting here

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