Lead Review

  • Book: A Cornish Summer
  • Location: Truro
  • Author: Catherine Alliott

Review Author: tripfiction



Summer 2019 has seen a real uplift in novels set in this wonderful part of the world. Are we surprised? The county makes a wonderful backdrop for all kinds of stories, usually with a good dollop of romance. And romance is indeed part of A Cornish Summer.

A couple of decades ago Flora fell for Hugo Bellingdon, of Bellingdon Water (who provide water services around the county). They are toffs, living at the colossal pile that is Trewarren (not far from Truro it would seem). Flora and Hugo marry after she falls pregnant with Peter, but soon thereafter Hugo is tupping Christina and they go on to marry and sire two more children. Flora is abandoned and has to bring Peter up largely on her own and she never really gets over the ending. She still holds a candle for Hugo and is intensely involved in Peter’s life.

Roger is the patriarch of the family at Trewarren and he his married to formidable Belinda, a rather controlling and ghastly woman.

As the book opens, Peter is now 17 years old (as a marker of water under the bridge, no pun intended) and Flora and her friend and fellow painter Celia are on their way to stay with the in-laws (yes, it is all fairly boundaryless and dysfunctional) as Flora has been commissioned to paint Roger’s portrait – another one to add to the growing pictures of him that are dotted around the mansion. Why was she chosen? Indeed. Upon arrival and much to her consternation there is a house full of people (INCLUDING Hugo and his wife – and no-one has bothered to tell her – and several other people who come to play a part in the story). Of course there is much embarrassment, intrigue and various goings-on that keep the story pumped.

There is also conservationist Ted who has a team of students patrolling the local coastal areas in search of pollution. He is starting to discover that Bellingdon Water hasn’t perhaps been as circumspect in their treatment of pollutants as they should have been.

Overall, it is quite a fanciful premise to be honest – the family is in dire need of boundaries but actually the author handles her characters’ interactions well. There is one scene – a hunting scene – where the author needs to introduce an event but the story goes off at a significant and overly detailed tangent that had me glazed over for several pages. But no matter. Once all the characters are in place (and there are quite a few) the story gets into a good rhythm and I enjoyed it.

The author does have a good writing style and pulls the narrative together well. A good Summer read for Cornwall 2019.

Back to book

Sign up to receive our e-newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021