A Cornish Summer by Catherine Alliott
Publishing Date: 13th June 2019
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 448
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
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.
Flora is a single mother, divorced for 17 years already but still crazy in love with her ex – husband Hugo, even though he’s married to his second wife for 15 years and they have twins. Nevertheless, Hugo remains a large part of her, and their son Peter, lives, taking care about his education and holidays. Now Flora is about to return to Cornwall, to Hugo’s family home, as she has been commissioned to paint a portrait of her former father – in – law. Soon it turns out that it’s more a family and friends reunion, as there are literally everybody significant to the Bellingdons’ life. But forced to confront her feelings to Hugo, Flora is going to discover some hidden family secrets.
The book introduced us at the beginning to many characters – and I really mean, many – but incredibly quickly I got to grips with them and didn’t have any problem with identifying who is who and to whom they belong in the family dynamics, so really hats off to the author for making it as uncomplicated as possible. Flora is the main one and the whole book is told from her point of view but it works. Though I must admit there were plenty of moments that I have found her frustrating, watching her living half a life and waiting for something that was impossible to happen. But altogether, she was likeable, even believable, kind and funny.
It is a relative slow burner. It felt as if the first half was this long introduction but providing us with this much needed information, dynamics, relationships for the second half that, thanks to that, felt much quicker to read. Although I must admit that it took me only one day to read this book – yes, admittedly, I had time to do nothing than read (finally!) but also it kept me glued to the pages, I simply wanted to know what’s going to happen and I was engrossed in the story. It was absorbing, and set against the lovely, vividly and colourfully described Cornish coastal setting, the writing flowing beautifully and leading to a rather satisfying conclusion.
I wouldn’t describe this book, like in the blurb, as “hilarious” romantic comedy. Yes, it was light – hearted, easily written and it had its moments, but it also touched upon some much more serious issues and the general tone was steady and maybe not deliberate but also not too light. What I missed was the promised tangled web of relationships. I was hoping for more interactions between the ex – wife, the present wife and the mother – in – law, I actually expected pulling hair out and deceiving each other. Some more interaction happened at the end of the story but, to be honest, I would love more. Also, as a horse lover I adored the scenes where the characters were riding out, the descriptions of horses and their habits but, totally frankly, the fox hunt for example went on and on, and I think, do I need to know, blow by blow, the chase, who did what and when?
Altogether, “A Cornish Summer” was a captivating, rich in details and descriptions story with an epic bunch of characters that you adore or love to hate, about old friendships, a great family saga with some twists that I didn’t see coming, with sailing, horse – riding, painting and finding love there where you’re not looking. It was full of secrets, lies, manipulation and social expectations that mixed altogether made a brilliant, perfect summer read, holiday escapism, with a great sense of place, about confronting your feelings, moving with your life. It’s perhaps not the most light – hearted romance, as the subject matter is quite serious, but everything works really well. Truly recommended!
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