What does a rather spooky, crumbling pile, of a once stately house, in the back end of the Cornish nowhere have to do with: a family that used to spend their summers there, a Tory MP, a scandal, an Hollywood Actor, Alzheimer’s, a love story from the 17th Century and a Metaphysical Poet? They are all strands, that cleverly come together in the brilliant new novel by Liz Fenwick, "One Cornish Summer". I can highly recommend this as both an interesting yet easy read – one that I didn’t want to put down but was really sad to have finished. As they say, you can’t choose your family....but you can choose your books!
I started reading novels by Liz Fenwick as 1. I used to be her neighbour and 2. I absolutely love the area of which she writes. Those reasons are still there but now I read Liz’s books as she has, book by book, steadily grown to be one of my favourite Authors and I really look forward to each new publication.
Therefore, I greedily grabbed an advance copy of One Cornish Summer and said goodbye to a couple of early nights and my weekend. If I hadn’t have had other things to do I think I would have picked it up and not moved until I turned the last page.
Although Liz’s books are marketed toward the Romantic end of the Fiction spectrum, they have grown into so much more than that and I love the more literary aspects. You can certainly tell when an Author enjoys their research and has a genuine interest in their subject. Where Liz and I most definitely meet is our love of Cornwall, specifically The Lizard. The history that has created the land and echoed through the crumbling buildings. How the past impacts the present and what has changed and what has stayed exactly the same. How people lived and how they live now.
In a way this is a massive book with lots of themes that are cleverly woven together to create a story that can be read on many levels and depths. There are many relationships. Some past, some present, some healthy, some toxic but never mushy or laboured.
One Cornish Summer is a story of generations – ones that have to put their ‘history’ behind them, to support Hebe, who is suffering the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s. If you want to understand what a relative of yours is going through, read this book. It may give you an insight, and understanding, that you didn’t previously have.
An Academic and Historian, Hebe has an hidden Love, one that is tethered by a shared love of the poetry of John Donne. Donne is quoted extensively, throughout this novel, but with a sensitive, light touch and only where appropriate.
Love, in all its forms, is a constant, multi-layered theme which runs throughout this story. From Thomas Grylls and his unavailable love, Lucia, in the 1600s, whom Hebe has made her life’s research, to the present day with 28 year old Lucy, whose love life is somewhat erratic and complicated. In part, influenced by a shocking incident in her past at Helwyn House, which she thinks of as Hell House, for many reasons. Not the least as it is practically falling down.
Horrified, when Hebe buys Hell House, which used to belong to Thomas Grylls, for an extortionate sum, Lucy, running away from her present, has to face the ghosts of her past – both real and imagined.
This is a story of fractures. Hebe’s now fractured brain and her all-consuming one love which she breaks for the best of reasons, a family fractured by several events in the past, an historical story that doesn’t quite have all the pieces and a cracked and crumbling, once majestic house by the side of a beautiful, if remote, creek, that flows into the sea.
As Helwyn House is gradually restored, can the family find their own more solid foundation for the future and will the house give up some of its secrets?
One Cornish Summer is a beautifully written book, located in a beautiful part of Cornwall. If you wanted to you could actually stay in The Ducks House, at Sailaway, St. Anthony, where Hebe and Lucy stay until they move into Helwyn House, or The Farmhouse where a Hollywood actor has set up camp, after being thwarted by Hebe buying the property that he also wanted, for his own reasons...
The beach at St. Anthony was where my little Cornish puppy, Mabel, had her first taste of sand and sea, carefully looked after by her big sisters, and I enjoyed many walks along the creek and on the beach.
"Beach At St. Anthony" Painting by Tracey Edges
You don’t need to have experienced the area for yourself though as Liz Fenwick paints a true idyllic picture, which always invokes the landscape, the seasons and the people, perfectly.
If you do go for a visit, you can always pop into The New Inn at Manaccan, The Shipwrights at Helford or The Helford River Sailing Club. Helwyn House is based on the National Trust property, Godolphin House, nr. Helston, albeit somewhat relocated.
Forget Du Maurier Country – the south bank of The Helford River is now, most definitely, Fenwick Country. Book a tour!
Find out all about Liz Fenwick at: www.lizfenwick.com or follow her on Twitter: @liz_fenwick and www.facebook.com/liz.fenwick.author
As well as good bookshops, Liz’s books can be found on your local Amazon.
One Cornish Summer, by Liz Fenwick is published, by Orion, on March 8th 2018.
What Tracey Did Next...Posted by WTDN Fri, December 01, 2017 21:34:07 Yes, this is me and, on the wonderful blog by Author, Jane Lythell, I am the Woman of the Hour. Rather an honour (thank you, Jane). If you would like to find out a bit more about me and which questions Jane asked me, just click on my ugly mug, below!
Tracey Edges (me!)
I think that I first connected with Jane via Twitter. At the time Jane was using the name Chloe Greene to provide some anonymity to her blog writing. Jane explains the reasons, in full, on her blog.
Jane has had a very interesting career, working in television (for TV-AM) and then as the first female chief executive of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Jane also headed up the Radio & TV Unit at the Foreign Office. She is now a full time Author. From thoroughly enjoying Jane's blog posts from the instalment-story, set in the 1980's; The Chronicles of Chloe Greene, to her numerous travel posts, I have since read all of her 4 published novels. The first two, The Lie Of You and After The Storm are slow-burn, psychological thrillers and the second two, The Woman of the Hour and Behind Her Back are set in the heady world of television - a world that Jane knows all too well - for good or for bad!
You can find Jane's blog by clicking on Jane herself (below) and my interview by clicking on me (above).
Jane Lythell (Author)
Jane Lythell's books (all well worth a read) can be found by clicking HERE (If out of the UK search your local Amazon)
My review of Behind Her Back by Jane Lythell can be found HERE(you may have to scroll down a few posts!)
What Tracey Did Next...Posted by WTDN Sun, November 26, 2017 20:15:27 I have collected quite a few stamps but have been a bit nervous using them. If you don't get it spot on, on the first press, by hand, it is difficult to go back over it exactly. Further attempts just tend to result in a big mess.
I've wanted a stamping platform for ages and decided to go for the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform from Tonic. The best price that I found, at the time, was from Amazon: £26.14 inc. p&p. It took 4 days to be delivered, which was quicker than estimated.
Anyway, I set to, to make some Christmas cards using some polymer stamps from one of my favourite crafty suppliers, Craftwork Cards
This was my very first attempt to use a stamping platform and it is so easy. You just line up your paper or card by pushing it into the corner, or using the ruler guides, and hold it firmly in place with the two supplied magnets. You then place your chosen stamps, face down, on the card and make sure that you are happy with the positioning. Carefully close the lid and give it a little press down. When you lift the lid the stamps will be stuck to it and you can ink them up. Close the lid, press down, using your fingers, all over the stamps and, when you lift your lid you should have a perfectly stamped image. If you have under-inked, or under-pressed, leaving gaps in the print, just re-ink, close and press down again, until you are happy with the print. Unlike just doing it by hand using a stamp block, the stamp will go down in precisely the same position and this is the beauty of using a stamping platform.
I, first of all, used an older stamp - an outline of a Christmas tree, along with a sentiment, which I curved to make it more pleasing to the composition. I used black Archival ink and was really pleased with the results.
The tree has spaces (circles) for Carftwork Cards 'Candi' - little circles of card which you can use instead of brads, by sticking down with tiny foam pads - Candi-Fix. I then added sparkly red gems to the smaller circles. Both jobs were time consuming and fiddly but worth it for the end result.
I used some tiny stamps on the envelopes. As they were well spaced I could ink up with both the red and green inks at the same time. The stamping platform makes it really easy, and an awful lot quicker, to batch make as you only have to position the stamps the one time.
Once I had all the bits in place, I glued a 'Handmade by WTDN' label on the back and used Glossy Accents on all the Candi to made them look like shiny enamel.
Once dried (overnight) they are done and ready for the craft fair.
“Behind Her Back” is the fourth novel that I
have read by Jane Lythell and there is something that always grips me and makes
them hard to put down.
Jane’s style of writing, whether with her
psychological thrillers or the, more recent, StoryWorld series, is to let the narrative gently unfold but, for
both the story and the characters, like a swan that glides calmly and serenely
along the surface of the water, underneath is a different story with complex
layers, tricky currents and lots of mad paddling.
This analogy perfectly sums up the lead
character of TV’s StoryWorld, Features Producer and single mum to a teenage
girl, Liz Lyon. In a world that breeds drama queens and backstabbing galore,
Liz cannot let her true emotions rise to the surface as she has to walk the
tightrope between all those above, below and around her.
When Lori Kerwell joins the sales team and
power-suits her way right to the top ears, Liz starts to feel that the
tightrope that she is already struggling to find balance on, is now feeling
like it is swaying over the Grand Canyon in a Force 9.
Can Liz keep her balance, while all around are
falling or does Lori manage to get in the final, sneaky push that will topple
Liz, once and for all?
Jane Lythell, single mum and TV producer for 15
years, herself, has plenty of experience to draw upon which explains the highly
believable treatment of both the domestic and the work scenarios. Throw in a
budding new relationship, that could be trouble, a daughter you need to walk on
eggshells around, an ex-husband that always says yes to his daughter (easy for
him as he doesn’t have to live with the fall out), as well as a cowboy builder,
and Liz finds herself trying to juggle many balls, which Jane portrays
The initial premise was specifically to portray
what life was like at work for a single mum, with all the extra sole
responsibilities. Having to keep a job, when you are the only one to pay the
bills, keeps you restrained. You can’t just walk away when the going gets
nasty, you have to make work work or you are in a whole lot of trouble. The problem magnifies when work itself becomes
trouble and, in this case, Liz needs eyes in the back of her head to see what
is happening, “Behind Her Back”.
An excellent read about the goings on behind the
scenes of a television programme, one which has all the ingredients to make an
excellent TV series, itself. One where the silences would speak volumes and the
looks, evil or pleading, tell it all.
The first book in the StoryWorld series, “Woman
Of The Hour”, set a good foundation for this second outing, which builds on the
now familiar characters – both lovely and not so. I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Behind Her Back”
by Jane Lythell, published by Head of Zeus, and can’t wait for the next in the
I have read Jane’s words since the days of her
blog and always find the idea of a new novel, by this author, rather delicious.
You can find Jane Lythell on Facebook: Jane
Lythell Books and on Twitter: @janelythell Just to confuse the issue, Jane used
to write under a pseudonym, Chloe Greene and you can find her very interesting
blog at: chroniclesofchloegreene.blogspot.co.uk
A light-hearted, romantic comedy, The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake, is
based in the seasonal run up to Christmas.
I chose a light-hearted read as during
this time, I think that everyone is pretty much running about in circles but,
as well as being a feel-good, easy read, this book also touches on the themes
of community, social and personal change, new and old friendships, priorities,
trust, luuuurve and how the simple things in life can mean far more than the
The by-line for this title is “Can Clara teach a little
village the art of happiness? However, it seems that Danish wanderer, Clara
Kristensen, has her work cut out when she ends up in Yulethorpe, a small,
pretty, Suffolk village which has been badly hit by the double whammy of
supermarkets and internet shopping. The High Street has more closed-for-good
shutters than shops left open for business and it looks like the Toy Shop is
about to go the same way.
Clara is staying at the local and comfortable, if somewhat
aesthetically-unloved, pub, run by kindly but secretive, landlord, Gavin.
On her first evening, Clara is quietly reading her book in the bar, when a
colourful lady bursts in and dramatically orders a double gin and tonic (but
hold the tonic) and announces to Gavin that she is done – she is shutting her shop – and she is off. When she gets back to her flat, she is booking a flight
Louisa, had been in the shower when she made the radical decision, realised
that she was out of sustaining liquor and with hair still wet, purple wellies
on and wearing her hot-pink pyjamas under her turquoise coat, headed to tell
her special friend, Gavin, of her decision, regardless.
Roz, owner of the still open Village Store and Post Office, and not a fan of
the dramatic Louisa, they have history, was working her way through a bottle of
red and muttering “Drama, Drama” through her narrow lips and rolling her eyes,
not believing that Louisa would close her shop and take off.
Louisa rose to the sceptical challenge, and did fly off to Spain, but not
before she accepted the offer, from Clara, to housesit, her somewhat chaotic
flat, complete with lethargic cat and a loud, potty-mouthed bird, Lady Ca-Ca.
Lady Ca-Ca likes to quote from films, often in an embarrassingly appropriate,
or inappropriate, manner.
In return, for the free accommodation, Clara offers to run the shop while
Louisa is away.
On the run up to Christmas a Toy Shop should be full of happy smiling children
and Clara sets out to bring the shop back to life.
Nothing is ever as straightforward as one would like and Clara faces challenges
from Roz, who has her own agenda, and Louisa’s high-flying, glued-to-his-phone,
stressed out and over-worked, over ambitious, son, Joe, who is something big in
The City. Joe doesn’t trust Clara’s intentions as how can anyone possibly be so
Does Clara, win around any of the villagers and does she succeed to bring the
Toy Shop back to life? On top of all that, can she bring her Danish love of
Hygge to those around her? With new good friends, naps, candles, blankets and
steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and definitely no mobile phones, she sets out to
do just that.
Of course, not everyone is as they appear, secrets abound and Clara and Gavin,
both have their own, that they want to keep hidden. However, secrets inevitably
come out and how they are dealt with can determine the future, for all.
A Hygge Holiday is an heart-warming, funny book, bursting with believable
characters and perfect for this time of the year. So pull on your woolly socks,
get the fire roaring, light candles, make a mug of cocoa, grab a blanket,
ignore the dark nights and rainy weather, cosy down into your favourite
armchair and let Rosie Blake entertain you with her delightful tale of the
goings-on in the pretty village of Yulethorpe.
I used to own a shop in a pretty village and I’m all for the Scandinavian
ideals of Hygge and Lagom, so this book
just hit the spot for me and I thoroughly enjoyed this light, cosy read.
With a background in writing features for magazines, Rosie
Blake published her first rom-com, How To Get A (Love) Life, in 2014 and A
Hygge Holiday is her 4th novel.
You can find out all about Rosie at: www.rosieblake.co.uk
and she is on www.facebook.com/RosieBlakeBooks
and Twitter: @RosieBBooks
You can buy The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake: HERE
If you don’t know what Hygge is, it’s a Scandinavian term for creating a soft
and cosy ambience, relaxing and enjoying being in the moment. The weather may
be foul outside but if you are all cosy, chilled out and enjoying good, calm
company or a good book, such as The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake, then that’s a
If you still don’t know what
Hygge is, here’s Rosie to tell you all about it:
How would you feel if you were ‘lucky’ enough to get a great
offer accepted on your dream home? You’d be really excited, wouldn’t you, and
be planning the schedule of works and be surrounding yourself with paint charts
and enthusiasm - but what if you gradually began to realise that things aren’t
all that they seem to be? The Sunday Girl Book of the Week is, The Upstairs
Room by Kate Murray-Browne and it’s a little bit creepy...
It was there from the beginning, the day they first saw the house . . .
Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to
the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East
London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the
eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill.
Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial
twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery
of the previous owners – including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of
times on the walls of the upstairs room.
I enjoyed this book – all the characters were believable and you could
empathise with them all – although Richard, obsessed with his vision of how
their home is going to be, when all is finished, doesn’t want to acknowledge
that his dream could crumble and he keeps his blinkers firmly on, while Eleanor
commences an increasingly desperate battle.
Zoe the lodger, has a complex life, away from the house and this gives the
story another dimension – a story within a story.
What do you do when no one really wants to believe you? Who is, or was, Emily
and what does she want?
The suspense builds nicely as this family start to fight the house, and each
other. It is well paced and you don’t know what is going to happen – the events
could go in any direction.
I’m really pleased that I wasn’t reading this in my old house – which happened
to be a big, five-bedroomed, Victorian Townhouse, which had one, upstairs, room
which always made me feel uneasy. The temperature was considerably lower than
the rest of the house and when my mother stayed, she said that she felt that
something was there, not necessarily unfriendly, but definitely something there
– and she’s not one to remotely think about things like that. She said that on
two separate occasions something touched her on the shoulder – EEK! She
actually didn’t tell me until I’d moved, so it didn’t freak me out. Too late it
already did. This room was fine in the daytime but at night I used to hate
going to the bathroom, which was on the same back part of the landing, as that
room. It just gave me a really disturbing feeling.
Do da do da dooooooo
Anyway back to The Upstairs Room. If you want something a bit on the different
side, a mystery and spine-chilling thriller which is an easy, flowing read, and
you don’t live in a spooky Victorian Townhouse, I can recommend it.
Author of The Upstairs Room, Kate Murray-Browne was born in
London, where she still lives. She worked in publishing for 10 years before
becoming a Freelance Editor. Kate is also an exhibiting visual artist.
The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne, is published by Picador on the 27th
of July 2017. So, jot it down, bookmark it,
or even order it and prepare to be unsettled!
I belong to a really good Book Group on Facebook, I don’t
really bother with groups, all that much, as I find them too time-consuming but
there are a couple that I really do like and this particular one feeds my long-term,
bookworm habit rather nicely. It is a great combination of both Authors, Reviewers and
enthusiastic readers and, in fact it is a bit too tempting as I just want to
read them all but there are, unfortunately, only so many hours in the day and,
as lovely as it would be, you just can’t sit on your bum, curled up with a good
book, all day – sounds good though, doesn’t it?! I’m an only child – books were
my best friends from a very early age.
I chose this particular book of the week as it seemed to be going down really
well with members of this book group and I ended up being intrigued as to what
it was all about. I am really lucky to be able to get some advance copies of
books so downloaded this one, and I am really pleased that I did, as I really
enjoyed it and could quite easily have read it cover to cover in one sitting –
I did have a couple of rather late nights of – oooh... just one more chapter...it
seemed to be glued to my fingers!
Did you watch Humans, on Channel 4? If you did you may have been like me and
found the moral, social and ethical questions that it raised, to be just as
intriguing as the actual storyline.
The One, by John Marrs, elicited the same reaction in me. It was a book that
was far more than just its entertaining storyline.
There are plenty of online dating sites now, to cater for all types of people
but what if there was just one website which could help you to find the one
person who was your genetic-match. Nothing to do with location, colour,
appearance, or even sexual orientation, in some cases, but the one person that
would be your perfect partner.
How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect
partner – the one you are genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one
person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five
more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more
shocking - and deadlier - than others...
A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which
is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Would you want this opportunity to be available or would you be happy to just
take your chance with fate? Hmmm – I think that I would be curious but not too
sure that I would be brave enough!
John Marrs, showcases several people, all with very different lives and needs, who
have taken the test and explores a few variables that may complicate things. I
can’t say too much without giving it away but I found it to be a brilliant read
and definitely one that is suitable for any gender to read. With short, snappy
chapters, this is a well-paced psychological thriller with some surprising
elements that will keep you hanging on right until the end.
The One by John Marrs is Released, in paperback form on the 4th of
May 2017 but is already available
to download as an e-book from Amazon. (Please note, it has been previously published under the name of A Thousand
John Marrs is a London-based, freelance journalist who has spent the past
couple of decades interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film
and music for many well-known newspapers and magazines.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he
released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
I can very highly recommend The One, by John Marrs – I
thoroughly enjoyed it. If you want a bit of thought-provoking escapism, in an
easy to read, proficient, writing style – go and grab it now – or pre-order it!
You can find John at: Twitter: @johnmarrs1 facebook.com/johnmarrsauthor as well
as his page on Amazon
What Tracey Did Next...Posted by WTDN Sun, April 02, 2017 12:49:18 Every Sunday Morning at Siren FM 107.3 I play two hours of great music - a mix of indie, chart, old and new, singles and album tracks. There are features such as a Quirky Question, The Artist of the Week, The Triple Play plus variables such as The Book/Author of the Week and Under The Covers With Sunday Girl. All shows are available on Mixcloud. Here is today's which features, Artist of the Week, Chris Mullin and lots of other great Artists: CLICK HERE TO PLAY SHOW