A Cornish Summer by Catherine Alliott
Review To Follow
Flora’s been in love with her husband for twenty years. The trouble is, he’s been married to someone else for the past fifteen . . .
Now she’s been invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall. It should be blissful.
There’s just one small snag: she’ll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda.
And Flora discovers she’s not the only one invited when her ex-husband shows up out of the blue, complete with his new wife. So now there are two small snags.
Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with the woman who stole her husband’s heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it?
Or will stumbling on the family secret change her mind about them all?
If you like Fern Britton, Katie Fforde and Sophie Kinsella, you’ll love this heartwarming read.
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) I started life as an advertising copywriter which I loved. I’d write TV commercials, go on shoots, create press ads, see huge posters I’d done on the tube – all great fun. Then I got married and we were stony broke so I fell on my sword and took a very boring job which doubled my salary. At my new agency where I wrote tedious brochures for hemorrhoid creams, to relieve the boredom, I secretly wrote a novel under the desk. Well, I say secretly; I’d got to about Chapter 5 when my boss called me in and said: “we think you’re doing something else, you’re fired.” I mean, really! The conversation with my husband went like this: Darling – the bad news is I got the sack, but the good news is I’m writing a novel. Quite a lot of eye rolling, but on the whole he was great. Anyway, I finished the book, sent it to an agent – and luckily the rest is history, but I was VERY lucky. Back then there were fewer women writing (way back then, I’m very old) and it was easier to get published.
This novel is set in Cornwall which I adore and find any excuse to write about. I spent my childhood summers there and then all of my children’s summers. They’re grown up now and are out of bucket and spade holidays so I need an excuse to go back! The novel centers around Flora who grew up in Cornwall, but has lived in London for years. She’s an artist, and returns to paint her ex father-in-law – ex, because she and her husband, Hugo are divorced. But is that really why she’s returning to Cornwall, to paint? Or is it to involve herself yet again with Hugo’s family? Her best friend Celia tells her grimly it’s the latter, and decides to accompany her to keep an eye on her. Whilst in the breathtakingly beautiful manor by the sea, we meet the man himself, Hugo, plus a few other men, notably Ted the very attractive conservationist, and Tommy the annoying American who’s Hugo’s best friend. We meet Belinda, too, the ex mother in law, who is very definitely from hell, and Hugo’s current wife, Christina. I say current, because who knows what might happen in the secret coves and shady lanes of sun-drenched, seductive Cornwall?
Q) Who are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) My all time favourite authors are JD Salinger – who annoyingly was not prolific – and Anne Tyler who luckily, is.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) My favourite childhood author was Ruby Furguson who wrote a series of books about a girl called Jill and her pony. I badly wanted to be Jill, and I badly wanted a pony. I also loved anything by Noel Streatfield and Enid Blyton, who I feel is much maligned. When I was young they didn’t even stock her in the library – which was where I went every Saturday morning with my father. He got busy in the Kierkegaard section, and I was happy for hours in the children’s.
Q) What are you currently reading?
A) I’m currently reading Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld which is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and great fun. I read American Wife by the same author which I loved and am now working my way through her oeuvre. I do that, I binge read and I’m not happy until I’ve read the lot. I also over-listen to CD’s and end up being unable to listen to them. Same with a box of chocolates. There’s a lesson there somewhere…
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) Gosh, tricky one…I mean every time a new novel comes out it’s a huge moment, but I suppose it would have to be when I got to number one in the Sunday Times charts. I think it was with A Married Man but I’d have to check. Not so memorable, then…!
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement throughout the writing process?
A) Well obviously my husband, who’s been a brick, and never minds if supper is late or non-existent because I’m writing, but the children would say they’ve helped too. My daughter claims I once rang the school office pre mobile phones and got her out of a maths lesson to help with my computer, but she tells as many stories as her mother.