A good read.
- Book: One Cornish Summer
- Location: Cornwall
- Author: Liz Fenwick
I enjoyed this family saga which is set in Cornwall. Hebe, an academic in her fifties, receives a life-changing diagnosis of Alzheimer’s that has her fleeing to Cornwall, the place where she feels safe. She’s joined by her niece, Lucy, who wants to escape London after her affair with a married man, who’s in the public eye, makes her life a misery.
Hebe and Lucy move into Helwyn House, locally known as Hell House, the place where Lucy grew up but now in desperate need of restoration. The house holds memories and secrets for Lucy and she must grapple with those at the same time as Hebe struggles with the alarming progression of her illness. There is also romance for both women and the story weaves in a 17th century romance too.
The portrayal of the two main female characters was, to my mind, the strongest part of the book. The men were less developed, but that didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the story. I felt very sad for Hebe in her terrible predicament and hoped that Lucy would have better luck with men in the future! We may never know if Kit turns out to be ‘the one’.
It was interesting that the house was based on a real place in Cornwall, Godolphin House, and I was fascinated by the snippets of Cornish folklore that came into the book. Other than that, I didn’t get a very strong sense of the location being Cornish, as I have in other books set there, such as Mary Wesley’s The Chamomile Lawn or Patrick Gayle’s Notes from an Exhibition.
Hebe’s dread of her love affair with Rory being found out, due to his being much younger than her, quite apart from the problems her illness raises, was thought provoking.
The poetry of John Donne is woven into the story, and it was lovely to be reminded of it. All in all, a good read.