Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton

My thanks to both Anne Cater and the publisher for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. The decision to take part was my own and this review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

1918. The Great War is over, and Clara Carter has boarded a train bound for Cornwall – to meet a family that would once have been hers. But they must never discover her secret.

2020. Caroline has spent years trying to uncover the lies buried in her family history. And once she arrives in Cornwall, the truth finally seems to be in reach. Except with storm clouds gathering on the horizon, Caroline soon learns that some secrets are best left hidden.

Review

I think the current pandemic situation has been playing havoc with everyone’s ability to read, and also their reading choices. I have been careful in selecting nothing too heavy or too demanding, and absolutely and resolutely staying away from anything resembling dystopia…there are enough conspiracy theories out there at the moment.

When I was offered the opportunity to read and review Daughters of Cornwall, I jumped at the chance, not least because it’s a genre which dominated my teenage years. It is these types of books which were passed down from my Grandma, to my Mum, and then to me, and there was something so wonderful in this multi-generation reading where we could all share our thoughts and feelings within our own private book club. At a time when we’re so physically apart it was lovely to soak into the comfort and warmth of this book.

Secrets fester within the crevices of Daughters of Cornwall, and it’s these secrets which snowball and so deeply effect Caroline and her sense of who she is. The story begins with Clara Carter, a young woman of few means. I thought Clara was a wonderful character, and in all honesty I wanted to hear more of her life from her point of view – even if (especially if!) that meant a longer novel. I would have loved to have delved into aspects of her life, often which are just mentioned in conversation, in more detail – particularly in relation to her marriage, a situation which fascinated me.

Although I did initially struggle a little with the narrative voice I did settle into it quite quickly, and found that I was soon reading at such pace and with such enjoyment that time fell away. I really enjoyed the way in which, at certain points the narrative flips back to Caroline in 2020 as she is looking for more information about who she is, often imparting discoveries of the past she has found to inform the story moving forward. Although little time on balance is given to Caroline and her life on the whole, the novel itself, in its exploration of the past gives the reader the answers to why she is the way she is and speaks volumes as to how past secrets can filter through the generations and leave a lasting impression on the present.

The majority of the novel however is told from the point of view of Hannah, Clara’s daughter. The development of Hannah from child to woman, and the flourishing of her relationship with her mother was a real highlight of this book, and I wanted more! I became so invested in these women that I wanted more gaps filled in, particularly in relation to Caroline and the way in which she grew up, to the point that I wonder whether or not a follow up novel could be on the cards? I think there is certainly more than enough scope.

I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in a virtual meet with the lovely Fern Britton, and despite my two year old daughter being determined to hog the camera at times, it was so enjoyable. To hear the back story behind this novel and how it relates to Fern’s own family was fascinating, and the discussion really set some events of the novel into perspective. There were times (and I apologise for the vagueness, but I don’t want to give anything away!) where I was expecting high octane family drama during the course of the novel – and it was actually all rather subdued and nonchalant. I remember thinking that it was rather far fetched that it would be so low key – and yet, in it being so quiet, it played on my mind and had me really studying the deeper emotions at play. It was this reason that these moments really stayed with me, and amazingly it was these events that actually happened in real life. It got me thinking just how used we’ve become to soap-style drama when very often subtle reactions are not only more commonplace, but can also deliver a more thought-provoking and emotional impact.

A warm, gentle story filled with strong women all set to the stunning backdrop of Cornwall. Daughters of Cornwall has been an absolute joy to read, and if, like me, you enjoy exploring family sagas, I do not think you will be disappointed. This is simply gorgeous. I’ll be buying a copy as a gift for my Grandma and I’m already looking forward to resurrecting our almost-defunct family book club!

About the Author

Fern Britton is the highly acclaimed author of eight Sunday Times bestselling novels.

Born in London, into a theatrical family, Fern started her professional life as a stage manager. Theatre life was great fun but within three years, in 1980, she graduated to television and became a presenter on Westward Television. Here she achieved her ambition of living in Cornwall. Since then television has been her home. She spent 14 years as a journalist before presenting Ready, Steady, Cook for the BBC. This Morning for ITV came next where she won several awards and became a household name. Her interview programme Fern Britton Meets had guests including Tony Blair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dolly Parton and Cliff Richard. Fern presented The Big Allotment Challenge (BBC2), For What It’s Worth (BBC1), Culinary Genius with Gordon Ramsay (ITV)

Fern’s novels are all set in her beloved Cornwall. Her books are cherished for their warmth, wit and wisdom, and have won her legions of loyal readers. Fern was a judge for the Costa Book of the Year Award and a supporter of the Reading Agency, promoting literacy and reading.

Fern turned her talents to acting last year when she starred as Marie in Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s award-winning musical Calendar Girls.

Fern has twin sons, two daughters and lives in Cornwall in a house full of good food, wine, family, friends and gardening books. She has a motor cycle licence, an honorary doctorate for services to broadcasting and charity, and is a member of Mensa!

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