Monday, 22 June 2015

Guest Book Review: Emma Burstall - Tremarnock

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses cluster around the fishing harbour. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant. It is here that Liz has found sanctuary for herself and her young daughter, Rosie - far away from Rosie's cheating father.

Liz works all the hours God sends. First thing in the morning she's out, cleaning offices. At night she is waitressing in the village restaurant, while friends and neighbours rally round and mind Rosie. But trouble is waiting just round the corner.

As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets - and ambitions. Emma Burstall's wonderfully engaging first novel about Tremarnock is the story of what happens when one shocking turn of events sweeps a small community.

Amazon link: Kindle

Tremarnock is the first in a planned trilogy from an author new to me - Emma Burstall. Tremarnock is a quaint, coastal village in Cornwall and although small this seaside town has plenty going on amongst its residents. Opening with a curious prologue that made me want to keep turning the pages this book provided me with several hours of enjoyable reading as the lives of Liz Broome and her adorable, gutsy daughter Rosie unfurled. Looking at the cover you may expect an easy light summer read the usual run of the mill chick lit but this is not the case at all. Between these covers is a realistic story line of a single mother struggling to stay on top of things and do the best for her daughter whilst attempting to deal with whatever life throws at her. The author soon had me totally engaged with all the characters and I loved every minute of this deeply satisfying read.

Liz lives in a small apartment and works two jobs to provide everything her young daughter Rosie needs. Rosie has cerebral palsy but this does not stop her doing everything to the best of her ability despite the kids at school not always treating her the way they should. The author did a great job of showing us right from the start that Liz was an independent woman who may be bone tired from rising early in the morning to clean offices and working late at night in a local restaurant but she kept going to secure a solid future for her small family unit. Liz didn't want to rely on help or sympathy from anyone in the form of money and she should be admired for this. You sense she is balancing an awful lot but with child minding help from neighbours she can work and this eases her guilt at leaving Rosie for long periods of time. I felt Liz always had her daughter firmly in her heart and when Rosie wants to go on an expensive school trip to London what can Liz do but try and gather together the money to fulfil Rosie's dream.

The story moved along at a great pace but initially I did feel an awful lot of characters from the village were introduced. I was worried that I wouldn't remember who they all were and I had to write a list down to avoid confusion. Yes I understand the author was trying to familiarise the reader with the setting but as the book progressed some of those characters rarely made a reappearance. So maybe it would have been better to just focus on the people who were going to feature heavily throughout the book like Iris and Jim from the newsagents in Plymouth and Robert owner of the restaurant A Winkle in Time where Liz works. Hopefully some of the other characters mentioned in the book will reappear in book two as it seemed to me these people had their own stories and problems to tell.

Just when you think everything is moseying along fine for Liz she is put in a terrible predicament for any mother to face. I won't go into detail as to what happens, suffice to say she needs all her strength and courage to face this huge upheaval and upset. But this is where Robert steps in and becomes a form of support and back up. Robert is a quite, unassuming man who keeps things hidden and close to his chest. You sense he has been hurt in the past and is afraid to let go and embrace what his future holds for him. But for me he showed his true character his concerned caring nature and was there in some form or other if Liz needed him. Even though at times she did her best to push him and others away preferring to hide in the small house with Rosie and deal with the situation as best she could. It took a lot for Liz to realise she needed people around her to back her up and offer advice. This predicament allowed the reader to ponder what would they do given the situation – would they just give in to what the experts are saying or would you as a mother search for an alternative? Just when you think things couldn't possibly get any worse, Liz is dealt yet another blow. In all honesty I had my suspicions about this from the start and it really infuriated me that someone could do such a thing. Especially knowing how hard Liz was finding everything. But once again Liz shows us what a remarkable woman she really is and accepts things for what they are and she learns to forgive and forget. Something I would find very hard to do given what she discovers.

The author succeed in creating a small cosy community feel that won me over right from the start. The last time I felt this in a book was when reading the first in the Tindledale series from Alexandra Brown so the author is certainly in good company. What makes this book such a great read is that it is not all full of love and romance but gives the reader something they can get their teeth into because the storyline is so true to life. There are plenty of dilemmas to ponder whilst also giving us heartbreak and romance with dashes of light humour at just the right moments. Sadly I'll have to wait until Spring 2016 for the next instalment from Tremarnock but in the meantime I would highly recommend this book, a perfect read for a relaxing afternoon in the garden with a heroine you won't forget in a hurry.

I'd like to thank Emma Burstall for sending us a copy of Tremarnock for Emma to review. 

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