Usually around this time of year, The Bandwagon hosts the Cornish Reading Challenge. Sadly, due to other commitments, the challenge isn’t happening this year. But to cheer me up, I was given a copy of One Cornish Summer by Liz Fenwick to review.
Against the beauty of Cornwall, a story of two women struggling with their past: one cannot remember hers, the other cannot forget…
When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful – Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in.
Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family’s last summer there more than ten years ago.
Both women will learn that memories live in our hearts and that sharing secrets can set you free… But can they find their way back to the things that are truly important to them?
What I love most about One Cornish Summer is the relationship between Lucy and Hebe, particularly how their similarities and differences were highlighted. Fenwick is excellent at creating female relationships, weaving in intricate details, showing both the light and the dark. I’ve said before that Fenwick is quietly feminist, and that observation remains true.
Even when dealing with darker or difficult subject material, Fenwick handles it with care and respect. Her characters drive the stories; in One Cornish Summer, you really feel for Lucy and Hebe, can connect with them so easily, and so their stories are all the more moving. Although I’m closer in age to Lucy, I could still connect with Hebe, and felt like I understood her.
This book is emotional, tragic almost, but there is light shining through. Hebe’s Alzheimer’s is depicted particularly well, as is her love. Another theme that stood out was Lucy’s relationship with her family, particularly her father.
Fenwick is a talented writer, and her love of Cornwall shines through her books. I remember seeing her visit Godolphin House on social media, and her dedication to research is very clear in this book. Through Fenwick’s pen, I can almost see the county with which I fell in love. I can hear the waves, smell the salt, feel the sunshine. Fenwick is an author I can rely on to deliver an engaging, wonderful story, each and every time.