Cornwall – Emylia Hall talks about setting, location and the lure of the sea…

Today we’re talking Cornwall with Emylia Hall, author of The Sea Between Us which tells the story of Robyn Swinton and local boy Jago Winters who saves her from drowning  –  a moment that will change both of them forever.

SEAThere’s this line from the book for example –

“One day we’ll buy a house on a cliff without a neighbour in sight wake up each day tasting sea salt, go to sleep to the sound of the waves”

Cornwall is as much a character in this story as Robyn and Jago. Their relationship grows but then they are forced to go their separate ways…but has fate finished with these two or will the ebb and flow of the tide decide their destiny?

I just had to speak to Emylia after reading this captivating story. So, here we are on a Cornish beach in November – sheltered from the wind however, eating sandwiches and cake with a flask of tea. Emylia has brought a lovely rug so we’re all set!

BECH CUPPA

What do you think we can learn or take from Robyn and Jago’s story?

Follow your heart. That’s probably the crux of it. Not just when it comes to who you love – and it is very much a love story – but what you love too – nurturing your creative spirit, doing what makes you happy, finding fulfillment.

Why is location so important to you as a writer and does this inspire plot?

I always begin with place – the characters, and their story, then follows. My first novel, The Book of Summers, is set in rural Hungary, and A Heart Bent Out of Shape is set on the Swiss Riviera. I’m interested in how people change, or see the potential for change, when they find themselves in new environments. That’s a common theme across all three of my books, in fact – how we respond to our surroundings, and which aspects of our personalities are drawn out by the landscape we move within, how we impress our desires upon it. With The Sea Between Us I liked the idea of taking a local boy, Jago, and an incomer Robyn, and having their two worlds collide – what they share, because they walk on the same soil (sand!), but also what divides them, and the part that their environment plays in that. I also have an innate wanderlust, and a heavy sense of nostalgia, so my novels often have an aspect of wish fulfillment as I satisfy these impulses through my writing.

Life for your characters is really like the tide which ebbs and flows and one random wave put you on a new direction. What has been a tide changing moment in your life?

Leaving London and my job in an advertising agency to spend two winters snowboarding and working in the French Alps was very much a tide changing moment. It was in 2005, and I was 27. It was while I was living in the mountains that I began to write, and the idea for my first novel began to grow. If I hadn’t taken that step in a different direction – changed my environment, and the rhythm of my life – I don’t think I’d be writing now. In fact, I know I wouldn’t be.

What is it about Cornwall you love so much?

I particularly love Cornwall’s far west for its blend of surf, art, and spectacular landscape. It makes for an atmosphere that’s cool, creative, and just plain beautiful – altogether good for mind, body and spirit. I’m a Devon girl, and Cornwall has always held a certain allure for me – it’s that bit more wild and westerly. Now that I live in Bristol and have a small son my husband and I are enjoying introducing him to our favourite Cornish beaches.

What is the best cake you’ve eaten in Cornwall?

After bodyboarding in the rain at Porthmeor in St Ives, very early one September morning, I staggered back across the sand – head full of salt water, grinning exhaustedly – and sank into a seat at the West Beach Bakery. There I tucked into an enormous slice of pumpkin and chocolate cake and it was truly one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. I was still in my wetsuit, looking out over the deserted beach, watching a few surfers and bodyboarders turning their tricks in the water – my husband somewhere among them – and savoured the moment and all it included. It was the unbeatable sensation of relaxing and recovering after having tested yourself physically, the appreciation of the big waves from a distance (no longer getting pounded by them!), and the quite delicious cake.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the first draft of my fourth novel. It’s set in Italy, on the Tuscan island of Elba. At the start of the summer I spent several days there – my first time away on my own since having a baby last year. It was such an inspiring stay – I wrote masses, and absorbed the island atmosphere. I came home in love with Elba, and it’s that feeling of amore that’s carrying me through the rest of the draft.

And with that feeling of ‘amore’ lingering in the air, Emylia tells me there’s a lovely icecream shop not far from the beach selling the best icrecream Cornwall has to offer. So, off we go to find some amore we can eat. Thanks Emylia for chatting today!

Susan Booktrailer

You can contact Emylia Hall here – 

Twitter – @EmyliaHall

Web  – http://www.emyliahall.com/

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Cornwall, London – The Lake House – Kate Morton

KAte morton novel

Why a booktrail?

1933, 2003 -An abandoned lake house holds on to the secrets of what happened one fateful night when a baby disappeared never to be seen again.

Story

June 1933 Cornwall

A summer’s evening sitting by the lake house, a sumptuous garden, a happy family…hours later the peace shattered and a baby missing. Years later, the abandoned house still holds the secrets of what happened that night.

Eleanor and Anthony live in the gorgeous home with their children Deborah, Alice, Clemmie and baby Theo. The family seem happy, the mood idyllic, but behind the happy facade, all is not what it seems. For as the evening draws to a close, baby Theo disappears, nowhere to be found. Despite a frantic search, he has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.  The family home, is never the same again and soon becomes an abandoned shrine to its sad fate.

Modern day – 2003

Sadie Sparrow returns to her Grandfather’s home in Cornwall on leave from her job as a police detective. One day she stumbles across the abandoned lake house and starts to wonder about its past. What did really happen that night and what secrets are buried in the tangled and derelict mess of the lake house? Alice Edevane, now a famous author, has spent years trying to contain the unravelling of secrets to within her novels’ plots. However she cannot escape the most intriguing case – that of her very own past.

PLACE AND SETTING

The Lost Gardens of Heligan Inspiration for the lake house and surrounding area Visit - http://heligan.com/ Newquay- The Gardens of Trerice Kate mentions this in an interview as having reminded her of her lake house  - the beautiful gardens of Trerice  Visit - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice/ Polperro harbour The walks and harbour here are just like those the characters experience in the story Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum Gives a flavour of life back in time... Visit - Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum http://www.polperro.org/museum.html
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Inspiration for the lake house and surrounding area? Kate’s been inspired by these in other novels
Visit – http://heligan.com/
Newquay- The Gardens of Trerice
Kate mentions this in an interview as having reminded her of her lake house – the beautiful gardens of Trerice
Visit – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice/
Polperro harbour
The walks and harbour here are just like those the characters experience in the story
Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum
Gives a flavour of life back in time…
Visit – Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum

Welcome to Loeanneth, the lake house, home of the Edevane family. A sumptuous home in the gorgeous setting of Cornwall. A beautiful garden and peaceful lake, gardeners toiling in the background and a family enjoying midsummer on the lawn..

A narrow stream chattered its way across the estate, delighting in the brief sunny respite before being reeled inexorably back towards the woods, and  a stone bridge, the legacy of some long ago great -uncle straddled the banks allowing access to Loeanneth.

The family estate of Eleanor Edevane and her family. This is a house and a setting that inspires fairy tales – Eleanor and the Magic Doorway – written by a family friend. Alice herself skips into the woods, imagining plotlines, characters and scenarios she wants to happen. The Lake House and its grounds are like a fairytale setting but with a dark mystery at its core.

Imagine this as a photograph – captured as a moment in time. Fast forward 70 years and the photograph is now faded, the rooms abandoned, the garden ramshackle and the secrets tucked away. The secret of a house still standing and still the only shrine to a missing baby appeals to a police detective. But the walls and gardens seem keen to hang on to what they know, the fresh air now weaving its way along its corridors,  chilling what has lain within for seventy years.

The house is the centre of the story and the novel. A character in its own right, it is so beautifully and stunningly evoked that you will see the wallpaper as it fades from one chapter to the next before the flashbacks take you back to when it was vibrant, on the walls of the nursery, when the garden was lush and green, when the lake was clear and the sound of laughter and a baby gurgling in its crib rang through the air.

From the outside, a picture of happiness but the walls would tell another story entirely.

Polperro harbour - (c) Monika Kludka and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour – (c) Monika Kludka and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour - (c) Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour – (c) Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall

Review

Kate Morton is that rare breed of writers for me who totally and utterly has you captivated and hanging on her every word. She weaves the many threads of two stories into a complex and intriguing tapestry of secrets, red herrings and a world which is so vivid and evocative, it’s as if you could step through the cover and see it for yourself.

The two stories, past and present wove seamlessly together although for me the story of the past was the most absorbing. What did happen that fateful midsummer night? As ever with Kate, you think you know, until the very end when you realise she’s been teasing you with something all along and you’re as lost in that big ramshackle garden as the children in the story.

The idea of going back to an old house and discovering its secrets of what happened that fateful day is captivating. Alice in the present day is a mystery to herself and I particularly loved finding all about her in flashbacks to when she was an excited teenager. Oh and Eleanor and Anthony – I gasped when I found out what was going on and the events leading up to that midsummer night. In the present day, Sadie tries to unravel it all but her own story threatens to cloud her judgement. The stories worked very well together and added a real sense of intrigue.

I was pulled and pushed in one direction after another – from 1933, back to 1911 and then back to 2003 but never once did I feel lost. The characters stories build and flow seamlessly and I particularly loved the idea that Alice was now a mystery writer and had followed her dreams. Oh to read a Diggory Brent novel now!

It’s tricky to review without giving anything away but I totally recommend this for fans of a complex, intricate mystery which will take you on a journey and immerse you in the walls of a utterly captivating Cornish lake house.

A Year of Marvellous Ways – Cornwall – Sarah Winman

marvellous ways

Why a booktrail?

Marvellous Ways is a little old lady who lives alone in a Cornish Creek waiting….until one day she gets an unexpected visitor.

Story in a nutshell

Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and the Creek she calls home is almost all she’s ever known. She spends her days sitting by the river, telescope in hand, waiting for something – she’s not sure what but she’ll know when she sees it.

One day she comes along an injured soldier, also with an unusual name – Francis Drake – and like Marvellous he is used to people commenting on his name. He’s there to fulfill the wish of  dying man. Marvellous offers to help him.

But who is really helping whom?

Place and setting

Roseland Peninsula Truro The highroad through the village is a short cut to Truro Washaway, Cornwall, UK Where there is a  nearby schoolhouse. In the story this is some two miles west of fictional St Ophere but is also a coastal town. St Mawes  See the creeks and the landscape as evoked in the novel
Roseland Peninsula
Truro
The highroad through the village is a short cut to Truro
Washaway, Cornwall, UK
Where there is a nearby schoolhouse. In the story this is some two miles west of fictional St Ophere but is also a coastal town.
St Mawes
See the creeks and the landscape as evoked in the novel

Marvellous lives in the middle of a remote and Cornish Creek (Roseland peninsula perhaps?) but to her this is more than a creek, this is a world  and unique landscape she paints as her own. The imagery reads like a painting –

I awoke dazed, looking up through a portal to a star-drenched sky. And beyond the stars bands of milky light stretched out to the hush of infinity.

Her life is revealed by a series of fantastical and poignant stories she tells to the solider and often to herself in little snippets which read like dreams. She lives in a fictional place where the sign says St Ophere and the origins of that place name are a delight to discover! With a church at its centre. Her Cornwall is embedded in her soul, her mind and her very being. This is the place for thought and reflection –

For as long as she could remember the tide had carved around the church but the church had broken away from the people or maybe the people had broken away from the church?

The stories of Marvelous – how she came to be in that creek, and how Drake came to join her there are revealed by gentle ebbs and flows of the tide.

In the ‘undulating nocturnal silence’ Marvellous smiles as she keeps company with the moon, sitting on the ‘dirt grass moor and sand, a whole history of the Peninsula laid down one on top of the other, like fossils, like prayers’ . She tells stories…oh how she tells stories of wonderment.

With characters named Marvellous Ways; Francis Drake; Paper Jack; Peace, amongst others, the scene is set for some magical realism with stars and glow bugs lighting the stage.

Drake’s story is also told as a journey to Cornwall, his experiences in war and how he spends time in London adapting to civvie life before he sets off and ends up in the creek. Wartime London is evoked poignantly too but it’s when the journey starts to that creek when Drake is about to discover a world of stories, hope and salvation.

Bookish musings

Lyrical, quirky and magical in equal measure. Oh I so wanted to meet Marvelous when reading this. Her world was one of magical realism and it was a joy to linger with her beside the creek and experience the sounds and smells all around. Listen to her telling stories and seeing her relationship with Drake develop as it does was an unusual yet uplifting journey.

She is a very memorable character and you leave it feeling as if you’ve learned something valuable from Marvellous about how it is to think about life, have hope, dream big and live a simple, pleasurable life in a little part of Cornish paradise.

Cornwall – A Seaside Affair – Fern Britton

a seaside affair

Why a booktrail?

A charming seaside tale from well- known TV Presenter Fern Britton – a coffee shop chain dares to threaten the town of  (fictional) Trevay….

Story in a nutshell

A story for the modern age if ever we saw one.  The beloved Pavillions Theatre in Trevay is about to be taken over by a major modern and overpriced coffee shop chain.

Not surprisingly the locals are up in arms and so they join forces to protect what they  know and love. Their theatrical heritage is under threat for a start and cultural life in this quaint sunny seaside town is not for sale!

Place and setting

Fictional location – Trevay and Pendruggan Real location – According to an article we found in the Cornish Guardian – Trevay was based on Port Isaac. Pendruggan is similar to St Dominick and Padstow (the Metropole hotel is said to be the inspiration for the Star Fish hotel)
Fictional location – Trevay and Pendruggan
Real location – According to an article we found in the Cornish Guardian – Trevay was based on Port Isaac. Pendruggan is similar to St Dominick and Padstow (the Metropole hotel is said to be the inspiration for the Star Fish hotel)

Fictional location – Trevay and Pendruggan

Real location – According to an article we found in the Cornish Guardian – Trevay was based on Port Isaac. Pendruggan is similar to St Dominick and Padstow (the Metropole hotel is said to be the inspiration for the Star Fish hotel)

Ah the life of theatre in  a sunny seaside town in Cornwall.

The Cornish Guardian ran an article in which Fern Britton spoke of her beloved Cornwall and the fact that she based fictional Trevay on Padstow and that the Metropole hotel there was the inspiration behind her Starfish hotel.

“There is a lot of Padstow in Trevay, and The Metropole is definitely my Starfish Hotel. It is all made up, but I can walk the streets in my head“.

Well welcome to Cornwall – the story with as  sunny a disposition as Fern herself. What would people do if a major coffee chain wanted to just dive in and spoil the idyllic surroundings and destroy the theatrical heritage of the small community?

Community spirit is called for!

So, with that in mind, the locals band together and each brings their skills to the Save the theatre project.

Penny brings the contacts and the determination, Colonel Stick his theatrical links and more people follow.

Brooke Lynn is the hot shot actress from the new Coffee shop and flounces into Trevay with her agent Milo. Brooke soon sees just what she is up against. She is particularly surprised at the local production “ Hats off Trevay’ and wonders if she shouldn’t change her approach.

The world of the theatre is well entrenched in Trevay and the theatre comes alive as does the Cornish charm and idyllic setting. It has all the ingredients of a play you will want to see what happens both behind the curtain and on the stage.

Just what will happen to Trevay and its beloved theatre?

Bookish musings of Susan

Oh I do love a novel set in Cornwall and the characters, humour and with sprinkled on every page really make it feel like home. Fern’s humour shines through and her quirky take on things and expressions really do make you smile.

Life in the seaside village of Trevay has a lovely community feel to it and the fact that the people all come together to save their theatre and town from the encroaching coffee chain is just the David and Goliath fight that is fun to read about and I was cheering them on!

Eccentric locals, hot shot producers, Hollywood glamour and so much besides is woven into a charming and very full read.

Oh Fern, you paint such a wonderful and exciting picture of Cornwall. Can’t wait for your next read!

Demelza Poldark book 2 – Cornwall – Winston Graham

delmeza

Why a booktrail?

The second book in the Poldark series and this time we hear from the street urchin/kitchen maid Delmelza who is now Poldark’s wife..Sigh, not that we’re jealous or anything.

Story in a nutshell

For starting life as an impoverished street urchin, Delmeza Carne has done quite well for herself. She is now married to Ross Poldark and yet struggles to live in his world with ‘his people’. Ross continues to fight for the rights of the miners – those he sees as his people. But some still find it hard to accept her in his life, least of all his former sweetheart Elizabeth.

Turbulent years test their marriage and their love. And an enemy appears on the scene who will cause a great deal of trouble for all of them.

Place and setting

Botallack to Levant The west Cornwall coast between Botallack and Levant has a strong mining village and so Levant Mine was used as the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill. Wheal Owles and Crowns near Botallack starred as Ross Poldark's Wheal Leisure. Bottallack National Trust: Levant mine Porthgwarra This was once a thriving fishing cove, and many years later would provide many of the beach and cove settings in Poldark. A really magical place and perfect to read the novel and to imagine Poldark in the sea... Visit Cornwall: Porthgwarra Church Cove, Gunwalloe The beach at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on The Lizard was the setting for one scene in particular ( no spoilers here)  National Trust: Penrose Visit Cornwall: Church Cove beach Charlestown Charlestown near St Austell, is the TV setting for the harbour scenes and the fishing port. Steep yourself in the history of the time and imagine the bustling market days. Bodmin Moor Many scenes were shot here including the exterior for Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, and the scenes of him and others on horseback. Rugged and untamed....like Poldark himself..... Visit Cornwall: Bodmin Moor Padstow area The cliffs in the Padstow area are some of the most dramatic and stunning.  The beaches of Tregirls and Porthcothan were used for Poldark’s fictional Nampara Cove. Visit Cornwall: Padstow St Agnes Head This area was used to represent the Nampara Valley, which is part of Poldarks’ family estate. National Trust: St Agnes and Chapel Porth Truro Funnily enough Corsham in Wiltshire doubled as Truro for the television verson - but the city itself was Winston Graham’s true inspiration for the story and was the location of choice for the world premiere of the series. Visit Cornwall: Truro
Botallack to Levant
The west Cornwall coast between Botallack and Levant has a strong mining village and so Levant Mine was used as the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill. Wheal Owles and Crowns near Botallack starred as Ross Poldark’s Wheal Leisure.
Bottallack
National Trust: Levant mine
Porthgwarra
This was once a thriving fishing cove, and many years later would provide many of the beach and cove settings in Poldark. A really magical place and perfect to read the novel and to imagine Poldark in the sea…
Visit Cornwall: Porthgwarra
Church Cove, Gunwalloe
The beach at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on The Lizard was the setting for one scene in particular ( no spoilers here)
National Trust: Penrose
Visit Cornwall: Church Cove beach
Charlestown
Charlestown near St Austell, is the TV setting for the harbour scenes and the fishing port. Steep yourself in the history of the time and imagine the bustling market days.
Bodmin Moor
Many scenes were shot here including the exterior for Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, and the scenes of him and others on horseback. Rugged and untamed….like Poldark himself…..
Visit Cornwall: Bodmin Moor
Padstow area
The cliffs in the Padstow area are some of the most dramatic and stunning. The beaches of Tregirls and Porthcothan were used for Poldark’s fictional Nampara Cove.
Visit Cornwall: Padstow
St Agnes Head
This area was used to represent the Nampara Valley, which is part of Poldarks’ family estate.
National Trust: St Agnes and Chapel Porth
Truro
Funnily enough Corsham in Wiltshire doubled as Truro for the television verson – but the city itself was Winston Graham’s true inspiration for the story and was the location of choice for the world premiere of the series.
Visit Cornwall: Truro

Well Cornwall of course is the setting as well as the main character in the novel for the original novels had the subtitle of ‘A novel of Cornwall’ and you really do get  a strong feel for the time and place as well as its people in this saga. Down at the harbour:

At the other side they looked upon a quay pyramided with merchandise which was being unloaded rom a long boat. Delemza stared about her, faintly mesmerized.

Where the first novel took place between 1783 and 1787 this one takes the action forward to 1788 and 1790. Delmelza and Ross are married and they have a child Julia

May month was a time for heavy gales, but the climate of Cornwall is capricious as any child ever born

However, turbulent times are ahead.  Poverty and illness ravage the countryside and the villages.  Ross’ financial dealings in the Wheal Leisure mines are difficult and stressful.

..there had been a storm meeting at the Wheal Leisure venturers at which Ross and Dr Choake had again got at loggerheads.

This is the Cornwall seen through Delmelza’s eyes and her struggle to adapt to Cornish life and to her life as Ross’ wife. Demelza sees her life change – now she has to act like the mother and lady of the house that she is. No tackling Jed to the floor or getting into mischief (well not if she can help it)

Crossing the class divide from kitchen maid to lady has been no easy task and the fields and open landscape still provide much comfort to her. As does Nampara, the family home –

But inside Nampara, in the little world made up of four walls and bright curtains and whispering voices, life was triumphant.

The coastlines of Cornwall and its shipping and pirate laden past are stars in their own right.

May month was a time for heavy gales, but the climate of Cornwall is capricious as any child ever born

Delmelza takes life by the horns and shakes up the local community in a different yet still as effective way that her husband Ross does. He is a strong figurehead in the village yet Delmelza is somewhat of a Cornish enigma. Charming and funny –

Demelza a few mornings later was eating a silent breakfast and scheming.  Ross should have known by now that silence at a mealtime  was an ominous symptom….

Poldark – Cornwall – Winston Graham

ross poldark

Why a booktrail?

Many women discovered a new romantic hero in the BBC 2015’s version of the drama. With the setting of Cornwall another romantic hero, this is a great opportunity to get back to the books. This is the first episode in the classic Cornwall saga –  Ross Poldark’s story.

Story in a nutshell

Ross Poldark returns to his land and his family following years of fighting in America. Everyone thought him dead – none more so than his sweetheart

Life since he left has changed a great deal  – and Ross finds himself a lot less welcome than he would have hoped for. His joyful homecoming is one of sorrow for his father is dead, his estate and mining company in ruins and the girl he loves betrothed to another – his cousin

But he stays and decides this is where he belongs even if his future is not assured. Life soon takes a new turn however for when he rescues a half-starved urchin girl from a fairground brawl, he could never have imagined where this chance encounter would lead.

Place and setting

Botallack to Levant The west Cornwall coast between Botallack and Levant has a strong mining village and so Levant Mine was used as the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill. Wheal Owles and Crowns near Botallack starred as Ross Poldark's Wheal Leisure. Bottallack National Trust: Levant mine Porthgwarra This was once a thriving fishing cove, and many years later would provide many of the beach and cove settings in Poldark. A really magical place and perfect to read the novel and to imagine Poldark in the sea... Visit Cornwall: Porthgwarra Church Cove, Gunwalloe The beach at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on The Lizard was the setting for one scene in particular ( no spoilers here)  National Trust: Penrose Visit Cornwall: Church Cove beach Charlestown Charlestown near St Austell, is the TV setting for the harbour scenes and the fishing port. Steep yourself in the history of the time and imagine the bustling market days. Bodmin Moor Many scenes were shot here including the exterior for Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, and the scenes of him and others on horseback. Rugged and untamed....like Poldark himself..... Visit Cornwall: Bodmin Moor Padstow area The cliffs in the Padstow area are some of the most dramatic and stunning.  The beaches of Tregirls and Porthcothan were used for Poldark’s fictional Nampara Cove. Visit Cornwall: Padstow St Agnes Head This area was used to represent the Nampara Valley, which is part of Poldarks’ family estate. National Trust: St Agnes and Chapel Porth Truro Funnily enough Corsham in Wiltshire doubled as Truro for the television verson - but the city itself was Winston Graham’s true inspiration for the story and was the location of choice for the world premiere of the series. Visit Cornwall: Truro
Botallack to Levant
The west Cornwall coast between Botallack and Levant has a strong mining village and so Levant Mine was used as the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill. Wheal Owles and Crowns near Botallack starred as Ross Poldark’s Wheal Leisure.
Bottallack
National Trust: Levant mine
Porthgwarra
This was once a thriving fishing cove, and many years later would provide many of the beach and cove settings in Poldark. A really magical place and perfect to read the novel and to imagine Poldark in the sea…
Visit Cornwall: Porthgwarra
Church Cove, Gunwalloe
The beach at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on The Lizard was the setting for one scene in particular ( no spoilers here)
National Trust: Penrose
Visit Cornwall: Church Cove beach
Charlestown
Charlestown near St Austell, is the TV setting for the harbour scenes and the fishing port. Steep yourself in the history of the time and imagine the bustling market days.
Bodmin Moor
Many scenes were shot here including the exterior for Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, and the scenes of him and others on horseback. Rugged and untamed….like Poldark himself…..
Visit Cornwall: Bodmin Moor
Padstow area
The cliffs in the Padstow area are some of the most dramatic and stunning. The beaches of Tregirls and Porthcothan were used for Poldark’s fictional Nampara Cove.
Visit Cornwall: Padstow
St Agnes Head
This area was used to represent the Nampara Valley, which is part of Poldarks’ family estate.
National Trust: St Agnes and Chapel Porth
Truro
Funnily enough Corsham in Wiltshire doubled as Truro for the television verson – but the city itself was Winston Graham’s true inspiration for the story and was the location of choice for the world premiere of the series.
Visit Cornwall: Truro

Well Cornwall of course is the setting as well as the main character in the novel for the original novels had the subtitle of ‘A novel of Cornwall’ and you really do get  a strong feel for the time and place as well as its people in this saga.

This first novel takes place and describes the events of between 1783 and 1787. The author paints a picture of life in Cornwall in the late 18th century and shows the various strands of village life and the trials and tribulations of the people who live up and down its coast. Mining is a major part of the community – financially and as a way of life. The work is hard and failure is not an option when so many depend on it –

On his way home Ross passed the engine house of Wheal Grace, that mine from which had come all his father’s prosperity and into which it had all returned.

But there is hope around the corner for Ross has support from both close and unexpected quarters. The struggle of the mines and the country way of life is fascinating for the land and its people are closely tied. Wise words to Elizabeth ring true of the novel for its readers –

There’s plenty of life in Cornwall if you want it

And we do. For Cornwall has never been so beautifully evoked. From the very real Truro and Perranporth to the fictional Trenwith and Nampara with many coves and beaches in between – the scenery is so evocative you can smell and feel the sea air:

He skirted the field until he reached the furthest tip of Damsel Point where the low cliff climbed in ledges and boulders down to the sea, The water surged and eddied, changing colour on the shelves of dripping rocks.

Then there’s the charm of the Cornish dialect – a joy to read as well as hear spoken – mainly from Jed and Prudie:

“Twur a poor summer for frewt”

or ‘ Twas a nice chanst I didn’t swaller one of they wasps”

Comedy gold from this Cornish pair!

The novel reads like an homage to the author’s beloved Cornwall – where Cornwall is centre stage – from the sea mist to the views from the cliffs. It allows Cornwall to enchant us all, many many years after this book was written.

poldark-on-location

The Butterfly Box – Cornwall, Chile, Peru – Santa Montefiore

butterfly box 2

Why the booktrail?

Ms Montefiore transports us to Chile and Cornwall on a romantic epic journey full of secrets and a mysterious butterfly box from Peru

Story in a nutshell

When Federica’s parent separate, she moves from Chile to Cornwall. all she has left of the relationship with her father is a beautiful wooden box from Peru which contains a mysterious butterfly mosaic.

In Cornwall she goes to live with the rather eccentric Appleby family and it’s not long before she has fallen for the son of the family Sam. But he doesn’t notice the little girl until it’s too late.

Years later, Federica is married but she is desperate to know about her past an so she embarks on a painful journey of self-discovery. She will soon learn the true lesson of the mysterious butterfly box.

Place and setting

butterfly1

From the heat of Vina del Mar in Chile to the cliffs in Cornwall, this is the book with hidden secrets on both sides of the Atlantic. The move from one home to another is traumatic for the yougng girl and the move from one country, one culture to another is yet another.

UK - Cornwall - Polperro  - smuggling museum Polperro is Federica’s new home and both her emotions and that of the town’s history are closely linked to the sea and its smuggling past... Peru Inca empire Where the stories of Federica’s father originate from  - the mythical land of the Incas Chile - Viña del Mar, Caleta Abarca Beach Caleta Abarca Beach near their home in Viña del Mar, where the family live and are happy for a while. Federica walls with her father and the dog Rasta along this beach. Cachuagua Where the grandparents live Zapallar Where the Maid Estella lives
UK – Cornwall – Polperro – smuggling museum
Polperro is Federica’s new home and both her emotions and that of the town’s history are closely linked to the sea and its smuggling past…
Peru
Inca empire
Where the stories of Federica’s father originate from – the mythical land of the Incas
Chile – Viña del Mar, Caleta Abarca Beach
Caleta Abarca Beach near their home in Viña del Mar, where the family live and are happy for a while. Federica walls with her father and the dog Rasta along this beach.
Cachuagua
Where the grandparents live
Zapallar
Where the Maid Estella lives

The setting is Chile is stunning – it is Federicas’ home and you can feel her pain as she is uprooted from this magical landscape

Her mother often takes them to Caleta Abarca beach and to the small seaside village of Cachagua and to the grandparents house where there are tall palms and acacia trees. Federica loved the sea there and the ‘white powder coast’

the beaches make you want to walk on them yourself and such are Federica’s descriptions and emotions that you personally feel the wrench from her homeland as she leaves.

When I was smaller in Chile, Papa used to take me down to the beach or into Vina to eat palta sandwiches in the sunshine. We’d go and stay with my grandparents in Cachagua.

Cornwall  – Federica’s new home and where she finds her new home strange and the sea different. With her emotions tied so closely to the beach and the sea, to come to Cornwall is seen through her acceptance of her new environment.

But this new environment is scary in more ways than one for it means changes and an escape from the past – the landscape of the past is a comfort

The sea was pale and  smooth , gently caressing the shore with the rhythmic motion of the tide. It reminded her of Polperro although the sea was very different in Cornwall. There the waves came crashing into the land.

The thread that unites the family to both countries is the mysterious butterfly box from Peru. The history of the Inca’s and the empire is another site of exploration and it is a lovely additional side to an already epic story.

Bookish musings

Fly away to the lush locations and a love story across the ages, plus a few family secrets of course. Santa Montefiore has done it again. Oh and do have a palta sandwich – Chilean style – they are absolutely yummy and help you get into the characters’ mindset.

Cuppa and a cake with Isabel Wollf – Author of Ghostwritten

A festives feast awaits Isabel!
A festives feast awaits Isabel!

Today we have Isabel Wolff coming over!  We’ve prepared a little festive feast so it’s all very exciting and atmospheric. What a lovely chance to sit with Isabel, talk about her latest book Ghostwritten and delve into a photo album that Isabel has brought with her. She is so passionate about this book , its story and what it means, and how she was inspired.

Hi Isabel!

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Your story is one of heartbreaking memories. How was it to write about such strong yet vulnerable women?

   Both Jenni and Klara are strong because what they each went through as children – Jenni in Cornwall, and Klara on Java – has forged them in the fire.  At the same time, yes, they are very vulnerable because they continue to carry around with them a great deal of pain, and this is what the book is really about – how we deal, or don’t deal, with our most difficult memories.  Klara, being so much older than Jenni, has largely come to terms with her past, although the process of writing her memoir opens up for her the torment she still feels at what happened to her little brother, Peter, during the War.  Jenni has never come to terms with her own childhood trauma, and this has had a huge effect on her, making her someone who seeks the shadows, rather than engaging with life.  I was fascinated by the idea that both women had survived so much, and had found the strength to go on living, yet were still profoundly affected by events that had happened so long ago.  

Java landscape - Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff
Java landscape – Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff

Your sense of place is astounding. What kind of research did you do and how did you react to what you found?

I did a huge amount of research – interviewing two survivors of the Japanese camps – now elderly women – who were interned on Java as children.  Both are in their early 80s, but when they talked about their experiences, it was as though it were yesterday. Listening to their memories, and reading the memoirs of other survivors was very difficult, since they all spoke of being starved, brutalised and terrified.  I also went to Java to get a flavour of this beautiful island so that I could more easily imagine the near Paradise that the Europeans had been lucky enough to enjoy before the Japanese army turned it into a living hell. The most moving experience was going to the Dutch war cemetery in Bandung and seeing the thousands and thousands of white crosses of the civilian casualties of the war.  Seeing the graves of all these women and children, and knowing what they suffered, brought tears to my eyes and made me grateful for the life that I have.

Java train tracks - photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff
Java train tracks – photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff

You’ve said that the book A town Like Alice inspired some of your writing. Why did you want to tell the story of the internment camps on Java?

I wanted to tell the story of the civilian internment camps because it’s been neglected compared to the story of what happened to the Prisoners of War.  Indeed, when we think of the War in the East, we think automatically of the poor POW’s who slaved on the Thai Burma Railway and other monstrous projects, as dramatized in films like The Bridge on the River Kwai Yet few people know that the same number of civilians – 130,000 – most of them women and children, were also captured by the Japanese, and also suffered extreme privation, cruelty and fear.  These were the wives and children of planters, teachers, engineers and civil servants who had been living in the region. With no time to evacuate them, they were rounded up and herded into atrocious camps where for three and half years, they struggled to survive.  I wanted to write a novel that would focus on their courage and their ordeal.

Women bowing - from Isabel Wolff's photo album
Women bowing – from Isabel Wolff’s photo album

Talk to us about your fascination with Java during ww2

I could have set the novel almost anywhere in the region but chose Java because that was where the internment camps were the most numerous: they were also, by and large the worst.  Java had been the centre of what was then the Dutch East Indies, and so most of the prisoners were Dutch.  As a writer, I realised that what happened on Java would make for a stronger story, because the fight for survival there was even harder than in other parts of the region, and indeed thirteen thousand of them died from starvation, neglect and disease.  

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You’ve really placed both yourself and the reader in the characters heads and amongst some of the most exotic yet horrifying settings. It’s very raw and emotional prose – how did you conjure so much from your research? 

 If the readers feel that they’re in the heads of my main characters it’s probably because Ghostwritten is written in the first person.  I did this partly because I love the directness and emotion of the first person voice but also because the novel is about the writing of a memoir, and so Klara’s story has to be first person too.  I put her reminiscences into their own chapters and, in a way, the novel, ‘Ghostwritten’, becomes Klara’s finished book.  Much of what happens in the novel is horrifying, yet Ghostwritten is, I hope, redemptive, because it’s a story of survival.  It’s about women being pushed to the limit of human endurance – standing for hours in the sun to be counted, being worked half to death, being slapped or beaten for failing to bow to the guards, trying to keep their children alive on one cup of rice, per person, per day.

 

Cornwall  - where Jennie meets Klara and the story begins....Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff
Cornwall – where Jenni meets Klara and the story begins….Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff

The setting of Cornwall – why did you choose this one and did you intend such a peaceful place to further highlight the horror of Java?

   I chose to set the present day story in Cornwall because there’s something Paradisal about Cornwall too – it’s the perfect place for a happy family holiday.  But for Jenni, that holiday turned to tragedy.  The novel moves back and forth between Cornwall and Java, and I felt that the beauty of Cornwall would provide a bit of relief from the horrors of the camps.  For Jenni, it’s a struggle to go back there – she vowed she’d never return; but in doing so she at last has the chance to lay to rest the ghosts of her past.

Thank you so much Isabel for popping over and discussing your book. A truly remarkable read and it was such a pleasure to meet you!

You can meet  Isabel on Twitter – @IsabelWolff     and via her website – http://www.isabelwolff.com/

Ghostwritten – Java and Cornwall – Isabel Wolff

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A chilling and extremely moving account of what could have and probably did happen in Java during WW2 . Have a box of tissues to hand. The writing as well as the events described will move you to tears.

Story in a nutshell

Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own.

Now she has an exciting new commission – she is to write the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara.  Klara was a child in WW2 and was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation.

Jenni and Klara begin to work together and as they do so Jenni begins to examine her own memories of her own past. Will the ghostwriter be able to put her own ghosts of the past to rest too?

Place and setting

From Cornwal, via the Death Railway to the island of Java and the many sites of the internment camps and jungles
From Cornwall, via the Death Railway to the island of Java and the many sites of the internment camps and jungles. The author mentions on her website that  one of her parent’s friends had been a POW on the Thai-Burma Railway – Death Railway and the inspiration for the novel had come from this and her childhood memories of the TV show Tenko amongst other things

The novel has a remarkable  sense of place, since the place is as much a character here as anything else. From the peace and calm of Polvarth in Cornwall – based on Rosevine –  and transports you right to the heart of the tropical heat of Java. The blistering heat, ‘mountains swathed in jungle’ and the dangers….

Java landscape - Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff
Java landscape – Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff

Klara remembers how her mother first described it to her, to try and make her feel at home –

My mother told me, before we left Holland, that we were going to live in a faraway land that was warm and colourful – ‘an earthly paradise’.

There is a lot of history and harrowing facts woven into this story too. Not to mention the smallest detail with a huge impact –

Jasmine and my mother were always cleaning because in the tropics, mould and mildew would take hold very quickly….Every week we had to disinfect the floor or the insects would move in”

However there are moments of childhood wonder – which gives a wider picture of the amazing life on the island before the trouble started –

My earliest memory is of the little Tjik tjaks, dainty beige lizards that used to run along our living room walls.They were caled Tjik-tjaks because that’s the noise they made.

Very different to the story set in  Cornwall but all the more fascinating perhaps because of it. Cornwall is beautifully evoked however – whilst Polvarth is based on Rosevine,  Trennick is based on Portscatho. Nailsford in the Cotswolds is fictional as is the Church of St Jude’s.

Cornwall  - where Jennie meets Klara and the story begins....Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff
Cornwall – where Jennie meets Klara and the story begins….Photo courtesy of Isabel Wolff

Booktrail recommended!

Isabel Wolff will make you cry-in a good way I hasten to add but this is a very poignant and moving account of life in a Java internment camp and it doesn’t make for very easy reading sometimes. There are real moral dilemmas, heartbreaking decisions and two remarkable women telling their stories.

The dual time line is ideal for the telling of this story – two parallel stories of a two women who have suffered hurt and loss. The ghostwriter certainly had a tough job and this book gave me new respect for what these writers actually do.

The relationship between Jenni the writer and Klara who is elderly and has decided to share secrets that she has only decided to share now. I could only imagine how this must have been a strange and moving experience for both women in different ways. Having said that the difficulties Jenni had when travelling to Cornwall and facing up to her own issues is also well explored.

However it is Klara’s story that is of course the main focus and for me the most harrowing and hard to read story that evoked so many emotions – very realistic and very hard to accept that it happened. There is so much emotion wrapped up in these scenes that you feel as if you are imposing on someone’s grief – but Klara is telling you the story that she wants to tell, has to tell and I for one felt privileged that she had seemingly chosen me to tell it.

The relationship between the two women and the end of the story – well I won’t spoil anything but this definitely had an effect which lingered.