Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @CatherineAlliot ~ A Cornish Summer #NewRelease #HolidayFiction #BeachReads #Cornwall

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A Cornish Summer by Catherine Alliott
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~ 

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&A ~

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.

CA
Catherine Alliott
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Death Of Mrs Westaway by @RuthWareWriter 5* #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Thriller #NewRelease @HarvillSecker Every family has its secrets. Some are worth killing for. . .

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The Death Of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.

There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back.
She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

My Review:

The Death Of Mrs Westaway is a cracking mystery novel, that I read in one sitting (laid down!). It has a protagonist Hal (Harriet) that I became quite fond of. Hal hasn’t had the easiest life by any measure and she is alone and facing tough choices in her young adulthood. I may or may not make the same choices she did. But I am guilty of certainly urging her to make them. I most definitely enjoyed watching the decision unfold.

The novel opens with Hal at her bleak attic flat at ‘marine view villas’. She is surrounded by final notices, hassled by loan sharks and contemplating which bill she can go without paying rent, gas or electric? She is being hassled by debt companies at work and at home. You really feel for her dire financial situation.

She receives a solicitor’s letter from a Mr Treswick of Penzance, Cornwall. He informs her due to the death of her grandmother Mrs Hester Mary Westaway, she is due a possible inheritance. He asks her to attend Trepassen House, for the funeral, wake and reading of the will.
The only issue is Hal’s Grandparents died 20yrs ago when she was a baby. Her father remains unknown and her mother has recently died. Hal is unsure who this letter is intended for, but she is sure it is not her.

‘You could claim this money, you know. Not many people could, but if anyone can pull this off it’s you’

We then see Hal in action at Brighton pier as Madame Margarida. She is a cold reader of fortunes, tarot cards and psychic predictions etc. She asks fellow pier worker Reg for advice how tells her in no uncertain terms to ‘take the money and run’. After her mothers accident and death, Hal became detached from her friends and previous social life. She is now a lonely, college dropout with no financial plan. Her loneliness really did resonate off the page. I felt so incredibly sorry for her. I echoed Reg and urged her to take the money.

‘The person she was now was not the girl she would have been’

Hal begins internet research into the mysterious Westaway’s. Looking for clues and insider information. She discovers Hester had three sons Harding, Abel and Ezra. She also uncovers a daughter Maud (feared dead).
She realises they think she is Maud’s long-lost daughter.

‘Whoever Maud Westaway had been, whatever had happened to her, she seemed to have gone without a trace’

Hal takes the train to Penzance and then the games really begin. Hal must utilise all her skill learnt at the pier to outwit the Westaway’s. The mystery of the novel unravels at Trepassen House. I was absolutely glued to the pages.
A fantastic novel and a big fat 5* from me.

RW
Ruth Ware
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***Don’t miss all the other bloggers on the blog tour***
Especially my blogger buddy for the day, The Writing Granet
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Magpie Tree by @K_Stansfield 5* #HistoricalFiction #Cornwall #Witches #MissingChild #NewRelease @AllisonandBusby 1844 Jamaica Inn, Witches, gossip and a missing child!

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The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield
Cornish Mysteries #2

Review copy
Synopsis:

Jamaica Inn, 1844: the talk is of witches. A boy has vanished in the woods of Trethevy on the North Cornish coast, and a reward is offered for his return. Shilly has had enough of such dark doings, but her new companion, the woman who calls herself Anna Drake, insists they investigate. Anna wants to open a detective agency, and the reward would fund it. They soon learn of a mysterious pair of strangers who have likely taken the boy, and of Saint Nectan who, legend has it, kept safe the people of the woods. As Shilly and Anna seek the missing child, the case takes another turn – murder. Something is stirring in the woods and old sins have come home to roost.

My Review:

1844 Jamaica Inn, Witches, gossip and a missing child!

‘The day I went to the Jamaica Inn was the day I saw a man hanged’

Right from the opening line, the author sets the scene and the era perfectly. Rumours of local witches and their involvement in a missing child case are rife. A community in fear and two sleuths are on the case. . . .

Shilly and Anna Drake have a desire to set up their own detective agency. But with a lack of funds to do so, their plans haven’t come to fruition. That is until they hear Sir Vivian Orton has offered a reward in the case of the missing child. The women set of on a journey to Trethevy, unaware of what awaits.

Along the journey the women debate the subject of witches, the danger it poses in the persecution of women. They know this case will be far from easy. Small town gossip spreads and has the whole community quickly gripped in fear.

Sir Vivian Orton’s wife (Lady phoebe) is heavily pregnant and this impedes their investigation, they are unable to question her. The missing boy, Paul Hakell also has a twin named Peter. The ladies begin their efforts by organising a search of the local tunnels and mineshafts. Then they are made aware of the local legend of Saint Nectan, protector of children!

Shilly and Anna are an unusual pairing, they are eccentric yet sensible. They each have very different personalities, but they complement each other very well. As the plot unravels their relationship progresses and you have a greater understanding of who they are and the lives that shaped them.

Local man, Simon Proctor claims to have seen the missing boy, near the location of a cottage. A cottage that has two sisters in residence. The locals remark that they often conversate in the ‘devils language’. Which the women quickly recognise as German. It is clear to see, how a miscommunication, in a small-minded community. Can grow into a fear mongering rumour that spreads.
The women have their work cut out in the small village of Trethevy.

Shillly and Anna agree to approach the sisters (with caution) and learn more about who they are and where they come from.
What they learn, will slowly help them unravel the case.

I really enjoyed the prose of this novel, it reminded me of the novel, Himself by Jess Kidd. With its odd characters and similar writing style. Every new development in the case adds more mystery and intrigue. The women quickly learn they can’t trust anyone around them and this makes for a great suspenseful read!

The novel has a very clever ending that reads right up to the very last page.
I look forward to future novels in the series. 5*

KatherineStansfield_KM013
Katherine Stansfield
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#1 in the Cornish Mysteries series:
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Falling Creatures by Katherine Stansfield
Synopsis:

1844. A brutal murder rocks Victorian Cornwall. In a place where the dead lie uneasy in their graves, to find a murderer a young woman must first learn who she can trust.

I had loved her, though she was cruel, though she was sly. She and I were just as the rest of the world – creatures falling, creatures failing.

Cornwall, 1844. On a lonely moorland farm not far from Jamaica Inn, farmhand Shilly finds love in the arms of Charlotte Dymond. But Charlotte has many secrets, possessing powers that cause both good and ill. When she’s found on the moor with her throat cut, Shilly is determined to find out who is responsible, and so is the stranger calling himself Mr Williams who asks for Shilly’s help. Mr Williams has secrets too, and Shilly is thrown into the bewildering new world of modern detection.

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Stranger by @KateRiordanUK #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #NewRelease @PenguinUKBooks

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The Stranger
The Stranger by Kate Riordan
Synopsis:
Cornwall, 1940.
In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.
Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.
Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.
And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .

In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?

My review:

Cornwall 1940
A missing woman and a small community filled with secrets…

The novel opens on Sunday 20th July 1940, the night Diana Devlin goes missing. The scene is set at Breakheart cove with the thunder and lightening of the coast as a backdrop.Five hours later, her friend Rose reads her diary muttering the words. . .
‘Oh Diana what have you done?’

The novel timeline then jumps to six weeks previously and portrays the build up to her disappearance. We are quickly introduced to Diana, a danger seeking, reluctant land girl. Having been exiled by her own mother to the solitude of Cornwall, she takes it upon herself to create her own entertainment….

‘One relishes a bit of danger’

At Penhallow Hall, we become acquainted with the other characters in the novel. The child-like and tearful Eleanor, the bossy and formidable Mrs Fox and the lonely wife Rose. Diana is quick to form a friendship with Rose, but Rose has secrets of her own and she is hesitant to share. Diana feels more and more isolated. She detests the bleak countryside and longs for drama and excitement. But it isn’t long until a third land girl arrives, the young and timid Jane.

‘And then there were three’

At first Diana remarks that Jane appears as a brooding irritable gypsy. She notes that Eleanor has begun to act odd, due to Jane’s arrival. One thing is for certain, Diana feels like the cat among the pigeons.

‘One good thing about this dreary war is that it encourages people to break the rules’

The novel focuses on the individual young women’s stories. Their pasts will come back to haunt them, during their stay at Penhallow Hall. But What secrets lurk in their closets?

‘I am on the wrong side of thick glass, looking in and trying to feel something’

I loved the slow, development of the characters. I felt the coastal setting and rural location of Cornwall, really added to the novel. Diana’s manipulation of events and unsubtle hints, show her true character.
Her own secrets haunt her throughout the novel.

‘they say that what we recoil from in others is what we are secretly ashamed of in ourselves’

As the girls grow closer, they do eventually confide in one another and this is when we get a glimpse into their pasts. Unhappy marriages, childhood shame and promiscuity all play their role. Between the late night confessions, gossip and speculation; you come to realise these are three young women with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

‘This place is thick with secrets’

The ww2 era creates more tensions and drama. With each of the young women, fearing for their futures. Will the Germans invade? The nightly blackouts and wartime tensions, add pressure to these young women’s lives. Then one of the women is taken by the sea. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Was it an innocent encounter? Or a sinister stranger? 4*

‘They’re all mad here’

KR
Kate Riordan
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#BlogTour #GuestPost #Location #Cornwall Miss Boston & Miss Hargreaves by @RachelMalik99 @PenguinUKBooks @penguinrandom

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Miss Boston And Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik
Synopsis:
When Rene Hargreaves is billeted to Starlight Farm as a Land Girl, far from the city where she grew up, she finds farmer Elsie Boston and her country ways strange at first. Yet over the days and months Rene and Elsie come to understand and depend on each other. Soon they can no longer imagine a life apart.

But a visitor from Rene’s past threatens the life they have built together, a life that has always kept others at a careful distance. Soon they are involved in a war of their own that endangers everything and will finally expose them to the nation’s press and the full force of the law.

#GuestPost Location Cornwall:

Place is incredibly important in Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves. The two central characters, Elsie Boston and Rene Hargreaves, lose the first home they share – Starlight Farm in Berkshire – during the Second World War. For many years after, they must travel through England looking for work and for somewhere to live. They spend time near the Lakes, in Yorkshire, in Devon and in Cornwall, where they find, just outside the village of Rosenys, a cottage, Wheal Rock, to which they are strongly drawn.

Cornwall is famous as a literary setting and I was very aware of this when I was writing Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves. Far from the capital, Cornwall’s peninsular geography can make it seem like a separate country, surrounded on three sides by the dangerous possibilities of water. When Rene returns to Rosenys from London she feels the boundary that she crosses:

[A]s the train left Plymouth and Devon and crawled across the homely Tamar, the journey caught up with her. At last she was going home. And then as she looked out of the window, everything outside started to come vivid. The tide was well out and in the sandy sludge of the river she could see waders, probably redshanks though it was hard to be sure looking for food … Each stop seemed to take an age: the train would squeal to a halt outside the station, and a brief lull of warmth and summer sound would come wafting through the open window. Rene would look out, often she could see the platform, almost within reach.

Many writers who have written about Cornwall, also lived there. One of my favourites, Daphne Du Maurier, spent childhood holidays in Cornwall and, most famously, leased ‘Menabilly’ a house near Fowey on the South Cornish Coast where she lived for over twenty-five years. Frenchman’s Creek plays on the differences between rule-governed London and the wilder shores of Cornwall. In Rebecca, Manderley, as a place and way of living, is clearly distinct from the artifice of Monte Carlo where the narrator meets Maxim de Winter for the first time, or from London (depicted as a combination of bohemian Soho and orderly, domestic Maida Vale). At Manderley, nature and tradition appear to combine in some ideal way. Except that the house is haunted. The sea – central to the Cornish geography – is central to this haunting. There are places in the house where there is no sight or sound of the sea, others where it is insistent. The sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers explains to the second Mrs De Winter:

‘”You know now”, she said, why Mr De Winter does not use these rooms anymore. Listen to the sea”’

It is the sea that brings Rebecca back to life.
Winston Graham who wrote the Poldark novels moved to Perranporth on the North Cornish Coast in 1925 when he was only 17 (he already knew he wanted to be a writer) and lived there till 1960. The first Poldark novel starts in 1783, just after the end of the American Revolutionary War and was published in 1945. The last Poldark novel ends in 1820 – it’s a period of dramatic change and conflict. In the Poldark novels, Cornwall is represented as less socially fettered than many other parts of the country, and many days ride from London. One of my favourite things about these books is how they trace the interdependent lives of a whole community. Much of the hazardous adventure in Poldark stems from Cornwall’s closeness to various other dangerous places: Ireland and above all France.

The Cornwall in which Rene and Elsie live is very different. It’s the 1950s, some of the harshness of post-war austerity is ending, but money is still very tight. The cottage they come to love, Wheal Rock, close to the chimney of an old mine, isn’t by the sea though it is never far away and water becomes very important as the novel reaches its climax. They live outside Rosenys, but they are also a tentative part of it, accepted by the village. When the two women are faced with danger, there is support for them from neighbours, even if some find them odd.

Early in the novel, Rene and Elsie have to leave a place they love and become wanderers, they must follow the work and when the work ends they have to move on. Without work, they are, quite literally, homeless. When they rent Wheal Rock, Rene and Elsie are reminded of the long lost Starlight, but they also see the possibility of a new beginning. Wheal Rock seems to offer the chance to make a real home (and not just a place to live). This is one of the key things the novel is about: the struggle to build a home and what people are prepared to do when that home and the security it offers are threatened.

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Rachel Malik
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