My favourite reads from February:
Liz Fenwick - A Cornish Affair
Jude deserts her bridegroom, John, at the altar on their wedding day, feeling that she is only marrying him because her family wishes it. Crossing the Atlantic, she finds solace in a job cataloguing the library of botanic historian Petroc Trevillion in his Cornish house of Pengarrock. Secrets abound in the house - why is Petroc estranged from his son Tristan? What was behind the death of Tristan's mother all those years ago? Plus there is a historic mystery concerning a lost treasure and its owner who disappeared in Victorian times. Jude's time in Cornwall helps her work through the reasons why she jilted John, and discover her true self. Romance, mystery, and a gorgeous Cornish setting - all combine to make an excellent read.
Anne Bennett - If You Were the Only Girl
Anne Bennett is the author of sagas set mid-twentieth century in Ireland and Birmingham. This novel follows Lucy from age fourteen when she goes into service in a big house in Ireland in a desperate struggle to save her family from poverty. Within a few years the people she works for decide to move back to their principal home near Birmingham, and Lucy decides to go with them. An opportunity arises for her to make more of herself, and when World War II breaks out, she leaves service to follow her dream. But her heart has been given to Clive, the son of the house, an impossible situation due to the difference in their backgrounds. Heartache, romance, soul-searching and learning from life's lessons abound in the book. The below-stairs descriptions and the horrors of war are excellently portrayed. The story tends to gallop towards the end, but overall a satisfying read.
Fern Britton – A Seaside Affair
The tv presenter draws on her own experiences in the theatre to provide background for this engaging read. The novel is peopled with interesting characters and has a plot that keeps the pages turning. The old theatre at Trevay in Cornwall has seen better days, and is now under threat. The locals decide to fight for its survival, and vicar’s wife Penny gets the task of calling in her contacts in her other guise as tv producer, working with old pro Colonel Stick, former manager of the theatre. The campaigners revive ‘Hats off Trevay’, a review from the heyday of the theatre. Several actors are brought in, including Jess, Brooke and Ollie, all of whom are struggling in difficult romantic relationships with other stars. Hearts are broken, swapped, and mended in this warm-hearted novel.