Book reviews: Sparkling summer holiday reads from Orion Books
Get ready for the big summer escape with three gorgeous beach reads from top publisher Orion Books.
Under a Cornish Sky by Liz Fenwick
As the summer holidays draw near, it’s time to take a trip to the coastal beauties of Falmouth with the queen of the Cornish saga.
Liz Fenwick, author of novels The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair and A Cornish Stranger, and an American expat in love with her adopted homeland, sweeps us away to a grand but troubled mansion at the edge of the glittering sea in her new summer extravaganza.
In a story brimming with passion, intrigue, betrayal and the fascinating folklore of the Cornish countryside, Fenwick takes us through four seasons in the life of two women whose lives are on a dramatic collision course.
Demi Williams desperately needs her luck to change. Her beloved mother has died suddenly, her career as an interior designer has failed to take off and now she is homeless after walking out on the controlling boyfriend who betrayed and humiliated her.
On the sleeper train down to Cornwall to stay with her 83-year-old grandfather at his cottage in Falmouth, Demi can’t help wondering why everything always goes wrong for her. Her mother always said she was too timid but Demi is convinced she’s just too gullible.
Meanwhile, at the once magnificent Boscawen estate near the Helford River estuary, 60-year-old Victoria Lake thinks she has finally got what she wanted. The estate, surrounded by orchards, gardens and the sea, was owned by her family for generations and then unceremoniously sold by her brother’s widow.
Thanks to her millionaire businessman husband Charles, Boscawen is now hers again and with the help of her young Australian gardener, Sam Stuart, she is busy restoring the grounds of a place that is ‘in her blood and in her soul.’
When Charles dies unexpectedly, and after years of a loveless, childless marriage and a string of secret affairs, Victoria is confident that her life and work at Boscawen will continue as before.
But both Victoria and Demi are about to discover that Boscawen will play an unexpected role in both their lives. Can either be reconciled to both the truth and the future?
With her trademark sensitivity and storytelling gifts, Fenwick brings to life the bewitching and unique charms of her beloved Cornwall whilst delivering a compelling, gritty and very human story of two contrasting women forced to make sea changes in their life.
At the heart of the story are Demi and Victoria, each woman exquisitely portrayed, each with their own secrets and insecurities, and each seemingly challenged by a ‘karma’ that is beyond their control.
Their journey to find resolution, understanding, inner strength and the happiness that can only come from acceptance, is a fabulous rollercoaster ride and an unmissable treat for those long summer days.
(Orion, paperback, £7.99)
The Inheritance by Katie Agnew
A priceless family heirloom – a mesmerising string of the most beautiful cultured pearls – holds the key to captivating secret stories in a sumptuous, multi-generational story from former journalist Katie Agnew.
Agnew’s debut novel, Drop Dead Gorgeous, won a WH Smith Fresh Talent Award, in 2012 and since then has won an army of fans with her exciting, glamorous and perceptive novels.
The Inheritance, her clever and compelling new saga, explores the relationship between three generations of women from the same family with the same emotional power and keen eye for the dark realities of celebrity.
Sophia Beaumont-Brown was an IT girl. But now she is in the papers for all the wrong reasons. Single, sofa-surfing, no real home or job and nursing a broken heart, she is not speaking to her family, only her grandmother Tilly Beaumont has any faith left in her.
Tilly has led an extraordinary life. A legend in Hollywood’s golden era, her days were full of glamour and adventure but her health is failing and she’s ready to tell her story now that words are all she left of ‘a truly wonderful life.’
From her hospital bed, Tilly sends Sophia letters about her years in wartime England, about family secrets and finally, about the most beautiful thing she ever owned… a necklace of the most incredible pearls.
If Sophia is prepared to listen, she could unlock the secret story of generations of remarkable women, from the pearl divers of Japan to high society in pre-war England, and find that the necklace has changed the lives of all who have worn it.
The only problem is that no one knows where it is. Sophia must discover if she is ready to take on the search for something so perfect that it can change a life. Wouldn’t a girl do anything to hold such power in her hands?
A thrilling tale that crosses generations, time lines and continents.
(Orion, trade paperback, £13.99)
The Taste of Summer by Kate Lord Brown
Forget The Great British Bake Off and instead head off to a rambling castle in south-west Ireland where tensions are running high for the nation’s favourite cookery competition.
Kate Lord Brown, whose novel The Perfume Garden was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year 2014, whisks us away to the cut-throat world of competitive cookery in a wonderful escapist tale of family secrets, lost loves and cream-filled cupcakes.
Every summer at gorgeous Castle Dromquinna in Kenmare, the TV crews and producers descend to film Ireland’s Top Chef. For professional food blogger Darcy Hughes, going back to Dromquinna from sun-kissed California will stir up some long-buried feelings for a man she has never quite forgotten. For her 65-year-old mother Diana, a celebrated TV chef, it’s a way to keep her castle running but this summer, it will be different. There is a lot more at stake than the perfect muffin.
Ambitious Bea Lavender, the cupcake queen, is on a mission to remind everyone why she deserves her own TV show, at whatever cost. And handsome Conor Ricci, the bad boy of the restaurant world, is determined to put his lurid past behind him and turn over a new leaf. Over a glorious Irish summer of baking and bunting, hearts will be broken and long-buried secrets revealed…
Brimming with romance and rivalries, tears, tantrums and a few tasty recipes to try out for yourself, this is a delicious treat dished up with smiles, sighs and an irresistible sprinkling of Irish humour.
(Orion, paperback, £7.99)