Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Guest Book Review: Liz Fenwick - Under a Cornish Sky

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Demi desperately needs her luck to change. On the sleeper train down to Cornwall, she can't help wondering why everything always goes wrong for her. Having missed out on her dream job, and left with nowhere to stay following her boyfriend's betrayal, pitching up at her grandfather's cottage is her only option. 

Victoria thinks she's finally got what she wanted: Boscawen, the gorgeous Cornish estate her family owned for generations should now rightfully be hers, following her husband's sudden death. After years of a loveless marriage and many secret affairs of her own, Victoria thinks new widowhood will suit her very well indeed . . . 

But both women are in for a surprise. Surrounded by orchards, gardens and the sea, Boscawen is about to play an unexpected role in both their lives. Can two such different women find a way forward when luck changes both their lives so drastically?

Amazon links: Kindle or Trade Paperback

Firstly can I just say what a great job Orion have done for the cover of Liz Fenwick's fourth book Under a Cornish Sky. Who would not want to be strolling along that clifftop path on a glorious summer's day? The colours are vivid and attractive and the beautiful flowers are an added attraction as flowers and gardens feature prominently in this book. This is the fourth book from Liz which features Cornish in the title and with each new book the author's love for Cornwall jumps from the pages. The sights, smells and sounds of the Cornish coastline and the Helford River are portrayed extremely well throughout the book with clear, concise and clever descriptions. Even though I have never visited this area it really didn't matter as I felt I was there alongside Demi as she navigates through a whole new time in her life after the death of her mother.

Under a Cornish Sky is divided into seasons and as these change so do the fortunes of our two main characters Demi and Victoria. Demi is a young woman who is having a rough time.They say good things come in threes well this is not the case for Demi. Firstly her mother has just passed away, then she loses out on a job in an architectural practice to a man who had used her ideas. The last straw is walking in on her boyfriend in a compromising situation. It's not what you think. I won't say what but fair play Liz I am sick of the usual clichés of what the reader may be suspecting in this case and for once it was something totally different if not just that little bit more creepy and disgusting. Penniless and homeless Demi turns to the one remaining person she knows will do his best to help her - that is her grandfather. So she travels to Cornwall where many surprises and secrets await to be uncovered.

Victoria Tregan is back in her childhood home after it was sold from under the family. Married to Charles she presents a well-to-do front, an upstanding member of the community but behind closed doors all is not as it seems. Victoria seemed cold to me for admittedly the majority of the novel. A woman who always got what she wanted no matter the cost but the one thing you knew she loved was the gardens and land surrounding the house - Boscawen. Victoria's garden and the estate are so important to her it slightly bordered on the obsessive and no way was she going to relinquish her hold on them. Aided by hunky gardener Stuart the author really brought these descriptions to life. Although at one point Victoria going on about fairies and beliefs surrounding a tree was a bit far fetched but on reflection this added to the book and made a whole lot more sense towards the end.

Initially I was wondering what the connection would be between Demi and Victoria but this was soon made clear and what follows is a battle of wills, although one woman more strongly than the other. Demi views Cornwall as a place to heal and reassess her life. But on discovery of her true parentage and the associations this brings make for a more than bumpy ride but she is more than determined to weather the storm as she stands up for what she believes in and by all accounts what she is entitled to. In the beginning Demi did seem a bit weak I know she had been through a stressful, emotional time as mentioned above but she needed to clear her head, help her grandfather out and get her act together. No one was going to bring her anything on a plate, she had to use her talents and know how to lay down what she wanted to Victoria. Most people including handsome, intriguing lawyer Sebastian were on her side but both Demi and Victoria had to work through their issues and establish connections and a truce of sorts.

Demi did begin to turn herself around and she does have to be admired for the way she handles the sudden discovery and subsequent loss of her father. Having to face up to the indomitable Victoria is no mean feat. It shows underneath Demi's vulnerability there is a core of strength and courage waiting to shine and be heard. It proves you can turn your life around in spite of all the obstacles that are thrown in your path. Whereas Victoria seemed to be selfish. She only thought of herself and keeping Boscawen and her heritage all in one piece for her own needs. She seemed to be defiant and thoughtless at times, to me she never really reciprocated the love Charles had for her despite so many years of marriage. At first she may have loved him but having numerous flings proved that love had diminished significantly. I will go as far as saying I disliked Victoria but then the author threw such a curve ball at her that even me who can be very cynical at times totally changed my opinion of her. She may not have totally melted but what she has to go through you would not wish on anybody. As the two women do their best to save Boscawen, a little romance is thrown in along the way but this book is not all about that but much much more and I feel Liz really has taken a step forward in her writing. This is high calibre women's fiction not chock full of the usual clichés or girl meets boy etc. Between the covers of this engaging, appealing, irresistible read is a story and a cast of characters that will stay with you long after you have read the last line.

I really loved this book and flew through it in two days. I felt the last book by Liz didn't quite hit the mark for me but this was a true return to form. The overall story was excellent and the cast of characters was well thought and each character had their pivotal role to play. I'd love to know what happened next. Was the hotel a success or did something go awry? Maybe there is not a full book in this but I know Liz is adept at slipping in characters from previous books so we might yet know how Demi and Victoria get on in the future. As we had a brief mention of Jaunty and a few others I had grown to love, so when I saw their names mentioned it just brought back great memories of the first books I had read by this author. Under a Cornish Sky was a gratifying, inviting, positive book that deserves to be in every holiday suitcase be it on a beach in Spain or while enjoying the Cornish coast. I can't wait for the next instalment in Liz's Cornish novels and can only anticipate as to who we will meet next.

Many thanks to Liz for sending me a copy of her book to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

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