Publisher: Orion (22 May 2014)
There’s an old Cornish saying: ‘Save a stranger from the sea, he’ll turn your enemy…’
When her reclusive grandmother becomes too frail to live alone, Gabriella Blythe moves into the remote waterside cabin on Frenchman’s Creek which has been her grandmother’s home for decades. Once a celebrated artist, Jaunty’s days are coming to a close but she is still haunted by events in her past, particularly the sinking of Lancasteria during the war.
Everything is fine until a handsome stranger arrives in a storm, seeking help. Fin has been left a family legacy: a delicate watercolour of a cabin above the creek which leads him to this beautiful stretch of Cornish water. As Fin begins to pick at the clues of the painting, he is drawn into the lives of Gabe and Jaunty, unraveling a remarkable story of identity and betrayal…
The prologue sets the theme of the story with the reader finding out about Jaunty (92 years old) and her need to write down the truth as she’s nearing the end of her life.
Granddaughter Gabe has decided to move in with Jaunty – on the surface to look after her. She used to perform on stage as an opera singer but left four years ago … why?
Fin arrives in the creek – then the storm happens. The scene with Gabe rescuing him was full of tension and made me hold my breath!
Jaunty is only able to write her letters for a short length of time and these are so well paced and share just enough information that the intrigue is kept alive. You think you know what the secrets are but then there’s another twist to her past. The writing in the letters is so vivid that I really felt as if I was back in that time during the war.
Alongside Jaunty’s secrets, Gabe has one of her own. Hiding in the cabin with Jaunty doesn’t go to plan with the arrival of Fin and being pulled into the rehearsals with the villagers. Her pain was palpable and is obvious in her interactions and body language.
I didn’t know what to make of Fin. Was he genuine? Was he acting on Jaunty’s instructions? Was he out to sell a story? This is so cleverly written that it took me a long time to make up my mind!
The isolation of the cabin and the creek is the perfect environment for the secrets and the healing to take place. Some fantastic scenes play out here.
It was fabulous to see previous characters too – Mark Trigg, Justin, Tamsin and Hannah play a part in A Cornish Stranger. The community feeling is alive and well when they reach out to protect their own.
Intrigue, suspense, tension, conflict, romance and community. This is a perfect combination and one that kept me hooked throughout.