A Captivating Read
- Book: One Cornish Summer
- Location: Cornwall
- Author: Liz Fenwick
Hebe, a middle aged academic is living with a life limiting condition. As she deteriorates she becomes haunted by her past, emotionally struggling with the effects of her disease.
Likewise Lucy , her niece, has a past which she has not come to terms with and which in turn has impacted on her life.
Both these characters return to Cornwall where both their stories and secrets unfold against the background of Cornwall’s historic past.
I felt Hebe’s story insightfully portrayed the emotional turmoil following a life changing diagnosis . This was illustrated beautifully using analogies comparing the detrius of “Hell House” with Hebe’s cognitive ability – “ one can be restored, the other irreparable “ .
The author also highlights the stereotypical attitudes when older women partner a much younger man and the implications such attitudes have on a partnership.
Lucy , Hebe’s niece has a murky past and her own secrets which haunt and have affected her life. The author slowly unfolds these secrets , drip feeding and intertwining them into the story , which certainly draws the reader into the book.
Cornwall and Helwyn House act as a catalyst for both characters to move forward and “embrace their future” .
Although the book shys away from dramatic descriptions of Cornish scenery, we do get a strong sense and understanding of Cornish history and the folk lore surrounding it.
I loved the vivid description of Helwyn House and it’s haunted past. The story has inspired me to visit Godolphin House on which it is based.
The poetry and works on John Donne , indispersed with the story , are a gem . The use of these extracts add a depth to Hebe’s story and enhance the poignancy of her emotions for the reader.
To summarise I feel that this book was both riveting and thought provoking. For days after reading it , the emotions of Hebe and her family kept occupying my mind – a great read.