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  • Another stunning read from Liz Fenwick!!

    I am a big fan of Liz Fenwick's work and I adored her last novel, The Returning Tide with it being one of my books of 2017. So I was very excited when I got the opportunity to read One Cornish Summer  - and I absolutely loved it! Just when I think I've found my favourite Liz Fenwick novel, she goes and pulls another one out of the bag!! It is the second book this year to leave me with a book hangover - the inability to start a new book because you're still living in the previous book's world- and it's only early March! One Cornish Summer is a story of love, relationships, and secrets and is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Throw into this mix, a historical mystery thread, an imposing house and the beautiful Cornish countryside and you have yourself the perfect read. Liz Fenwick has created some great characters, each with their own unique voices. Hebe is an historian and academic and as such has a mature and educated voice. The inclusion of John Donne's poetry fits perfectly. Hebe got under my skin, in a good way, from the very first page. Although she is over 20 years older than me, I really connected with her and wanted to dive into the pages to give her a hug because, at times, her story and struggle with Alzheimer's is heartbreaking. Liz Fenwick tells this beautifully and with so much respect. Hebe's story is poignant and touching and, in fact, has two dimensions to it. Firstly, we experience Hebe's day to day living with Alzheimer's and secondly, her flashbacks to one particular summer in Cornwall, where Donne's poetry is cleverly interwoven to reveal the turmoil Hebe's mind is going through. Although closer in age, at 28 years old, it took me a while to warm to Lucy (not a fault with the book, we don't always warm to everyone we meet first time) and as more is revealed about her and her past and why she is so reluctant to be in Cornwall, she grew on me and I really liked her. The voices of Hebe and Lucy are so vastly different but they complement one another perfectly and the two characters have a lovely relationship. As I would expect from a Liz Fenwick novel, the house is a character and is an integral part of the story. Helwyn House means different things to each of the characters and it draws them and the reader in, revealing its secrets bit by bit and subtly forcing the characters to reveal theirs too. From following Liz on social media, I can recall from when she was doing research for the house. Helwyn House is modelled on Godolphin House. Liz and her family went to stay so that she could bring it to life on the pages, something that she does brilliantly. Even each creak of the floor board is perfectly captured. It was great to see characters from earlier books make an appearance and to be able to follow a continuation of their stories. I can't wait to find out what they do next. As I mentioned above, Donne's poetry plays a big part in Hebe's flashback story. It's the first time I've knowingly come across his poetry in any great detail and wow, it's powerful. It is evident that Liz Fenwick knows his work intimately to be able to pick out just the right parts to illustrate Hebe's mind state so well. I loved it so much that I went out and bought a collection of his work! The writing in One Cornish Summer is beautiful, particularly in Hebe's story, but the writing in the last chapter is just divine and touched me so much that I was left sobbing. Be warned, this book will leave you reaching for the tissues and needing your favourite comfort food! Yes, I've felt choked up and shed a tear at stories in the past but there may only be one or two that have left me in a blubbering mess - One Cornish Summer being one of them. For words to have this much effect on a reader is powerful and I am in awe of Liz Fenwick's ability to create such atmosphere. There are also heartwarming and amusing moments in this story and the balance between these and the more emotional parts, feels just right. With The Returning Tide, Liz Fenwick took her writing to another level, moving away from the genre of romantic fiction edging towards literary fiction, but with One Cornish Summer, she goes one step further still, marking out her route and clearly showing she has the ability to write literary fiction. I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing what she writes next. Please let it be another giant leap forward because this new direction works. One Cornish Summer is a sublime read which is cleverly crafted, intricately researched and beautifully written. I really hope it does well because it deserves to fly. I highly recommend it!!

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  • Hell House

    Loved this one. Was a little bitty to begin with but it was great to find old friends at the Shippers!

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