Wartime with the Cornish Girls By Betty Walker

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The setting is 1941 in London during the Blitz. I was anxious to get to the Cornwall setting but this takes a few chapters. We met three very brave  women who come from different backgrounds.

Violet lives in London and helps at her mother’s shop selling sandwiches and cakes. Her father is dead, her sister was recently killed in an air raid bombing and her brother-in-law is a soldier missing in action. As his mother was German there are insinuations he was a spy.  Cheery stuff here. Violet moves her nieces to Cornwall as it’s safer and goes to work at an air base.

Eva is a showgirl in London. She meets an American airman and there is some romantic interest there, then the club where she is performing is bombed during  a strike. She awakens in the hospital and after recovery she moves to Porthcurno Cornwall to work at an air base using her knowledge of Morse code to help with the war effort. ( there’s a backstory to this development )

Hazel is a local woman who already lives in Cornwall and works at the air base. She is married and her abusive husband is deployed during the war. He gets home on leave occassionally and is most assuredly not a model husband. Not a bad man, just not a good husband.

I thought it was a slow start but found it more enjoyable once the three main characters  met up at work. I liked the friendships formed and the Cornish setting. Normally I like an edgier plot and action but this is a nice “beach read” type of book. If you are looking to escape the horrors of the news right now you may enjoy this book.  Nothing objectionable here.

Much thanks to Netgalley for the advanced complimentary copy. I was not compensated for this review and throughly enjoyed this book. Publication by Avon Books UK is February 18, 2021. Genre is historical fiction/womens fiction.

Betty Walker lives in Cornwall and is a prolific writer.

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

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The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

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The Shell Seekers and Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher remain two of my favorite books.  It’s rare that I will reread a book unless I need a comfort read so to speak.  I needed that recently and desired to immerse myself into this story and return, through print, to Cornwall, London, Devon and Ibiza.

There was much I had forgotten so there were happy surprises.  This book was written in 1987 and therefore a bit dated.  We open with our central character Penelope Keeling who is 64 years old.  She has discharged herself from the hospital after a heart attack and once you get to know her, you will get a sharp mental image of this strong, kind and likeable woman. She was brought up by an artist father, Lawrence Stern, and her French mother Sophie. There are many references and scenes that are pivitol regarding Lawrence Stern’s paintings, the Shell Seekers among those whose importance deserves to be listed as a character in it’s own.

You will travel back in time to when Penelope was a young woman durng WW II, her enlistment in the WRENS and how she met her husband. The times during the war are well written and you are immersed in the scenes of people rationing, happy and grateful for any extra that comes their way, deprivation yet hope and love surround Penelope.

Her children are Nancy, Olivia and Noel. With the exception of Nancy’s introduction at birth, we get to know her children mainly as adults.  Each one is very different. Olivia is genuine and I know you will love her when she is introduced but Nancy and Noel are greedy and fairly unlikable.  You need characters such as this to cause tension and do you ever get it.

I never realized how much food was mentioned in this book until I read a digital copy and used the digital bookmarks.

When Nancy requested a meeting with Olivia to discuss Penelope’s living situation, Olivia took her sister to a fancy restaurant she uses for business lunches. Omelette and salad for Olivia and consommé, escalope of veal with mushrooms for Nancy.

Olivia plans to have a gentleman over dinner. Crusty brown bread, butter, a pot of pate de foie gras; chicken Kiev and salad. Olive oil, fresh peaches, cheeses, a bottle of Scotch, a couple bottles of wine. She bought an armful if daffodils and loaded all this into the boot for her car.

In Ibiza there were many  picnics by the pool.  One day Cosmo took Olivia out on a boat and their picnic that day consisted of bread and tomatoes, slices of salami, fruit and cheese and wine that was sweet and cool from him hanging the bottles in the Mediteranean.

When they hosted a party there were boiled hams, roasted birds, concocted paellas, whipped eggs, stirred sauces, cheeses, breads and tomatoes.

Chelsea buns when Noel was in Knightsbridge.

In the kitchen the air was filled with the scent of roasting sirloin, baking onions and crisping potatoes. Penelope made a pastry, peeled apples, sliced beans and carrots.
Later she would arrange cheeses on a board, grind coffee and decant the thick cream she’d fetched from the village dairy.

Yorkshire puddings, beef, crisp and nutty vegetables, horse radish sauce and rich brown gravy.

A memory of Penelope’s French mother Sophie as we travel back in time during the war.  Sophie made a chicken cassoulet in their Cornwall kitchen.

Lunches shared with Danus: a pot of homemade vegetable soup, half a cold chicken and a crusty loaf of brown bread. Stewed apples and a jug of cream.
Cold baked ham, baked potatoes and cauliflower cheese. For pudding there were jam tarts and baked egg custard.
Fresh fruit salad, Shepherds pie, biscuits and cheese.

The fresh fruit available in England might have been different than what I had on hand, but it’s a refreshing accompaniment to any meal.

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Baked trout with almonds, new potatoes, raspberries and cream was the meal served for Noel after cleaning out the attic.

This meal of roast lamb and potatoes, peas and broccoli was just finished before a big blowout between Noel and Nancy.  They certainly showed their true colors and argued over money. I love the way Penelope put them in their place.

Overall I can say I enjoyed this book very much and it was worth rereading.  Family tensions and historical perspective, love and despair….it’s all here.

Sharing with

Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday.  Check out her cold cucumber soup.  I brought her a fruit salad.

Marg at The Intrepid Reader and Baker for the Weekend Cooking series

Carole at Carole’s Chatter for the Books you Loved, June edition

Joy at Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

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Grace is Gone is a nice twisty mystery about Meg and Grace Nichols. The setting is Cornwall in a peaceful small town. Cara Dorman is the neighbor of these two, Meg is the mother and Grace is the very ill 17 year old daughter. Cara is banging away at the door to drop off a bag of clothes for Grace when she makes a shocking discovery.
As she makes her way into the house calling out for Meg, she finds Grace’s wheelchair overturned, Grace is nowhere in sight and Meg is dead in her bed. Her head is bashed in so obviously it’s murder. Where is Grace? Did Meg’s violent ex-husband kidnap her?

The story is told from two points of view, Cara the neighbor and Jon, an investigative reporter. There is also Grace’s diary where Jon gets a glimpse of her life through these diary entries.

There are many correlations with a real life case about Gyspy Blanchard. If you read about that HERE you may have some spoilers as far as this book.

I enjoyed Emily Elgar’s first book If You Knew Her much more than this one. Would I read another novel by this author? Absolutely.

For more info on the author check out her website HERE. Emily grew up in West country and currently lives in East Sussex England.  Much thanks to LibraryThing for my copy of this book.

Linking up with: British Isles Friday at Joy’s Book Blog

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