21 Books Set In Cornwall That You Will Love To Read – Book Recommendations
I’m always on the hunt for lovely books based in Cornwall. Even though I live here, I still love reading about it. I love other people’s take on the place and how they evoke the unique atmosphere with their words. I’m a tad jealous too, I’d love to be a brilliant writer and write a book on the best place in the world! But for now I will have to be content with telling you all about the books you could read instead…
I’ve scoured my (many) book shelves and found all of my favourite books that are based in Cornwall. I hope you enjoy reading about them and that you maybe feel inspired to read some of them yourself.
1. Somewhere Beyond The Sea by Miranda Dickinson
Can you fall in love with someone before you've even met? Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes. Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he?s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope. Seren and Jack are searching for their missing pieces. But when they meet in real life, it?s on the opposing sides of a battle. Jack is managing the redevelopment of a local landmark, and Seren is leading the community campaign to save it. Both have reason to fight – Seren for the cause her father believed in, Jack for his livelihood. But only one can win. With so much at stake, will they ever find what they are really looking for?
2. Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale
Gifted artist Rachel Kelly is a whirlwind of creative highs and anguished, crippling lows. She’s also something of an enigma to her husband and four children. So when she is found dead in her Penzance studio, leaving behind some extraordinary new paintings, there’s a painful need for answers. Her Quaker husband appeals for information on the internet. The fragments of a shattered life slowly come to light, and it becomes clear that bohemian Rachel has left her children not only a gift for art – but also her haunting demons.
3. To The Lighthouse By Virginia Woolf
This simple and haunting story captures the transience of life and its surrounding emotions.
To The Lighthouse is the most autobiographical of Virginia Woolf’s novels. It is based on her own early experiences, and while it touches on childhood and children’s perceptions and desires, it is at its most trenchant when exploring adult relationships, marriage and the changing class-structure in the period spanning the Great War.
4. Under A Cornish Sky By Liz Fenwick
Boscawen – a rambling Cornish house surrounded by gardens, orchards and the sea – has been in Victoria’s family for generations. Now, after a loveless marriage and many secret affairs, Victoria hopes to have it all to herself.
On the sleeper train down to Cornwall, Demi desperately hopes her luck will change. After her boyfriend’s humiliating betrayal, running away from her old London life seems the only option.
But Victoria and Demi are in for a surprise. Boscawen is about to play an unexpected part in both their lives. Can two such different women find a way forward when luck changes their lives so drastically?
5. The Promise Of Happiness By Justin Cartwright
Charles Judd meanders round his local Cornish beach, contemplating the turns his life has taken. At home, his wife Daphne struggles hopelessly with the latest fish recipe. Tow of their children are keeping it all together – just. The third, Charles and Daphne’s prodigal daughter Juliet, is being released from prison in New York after a sentence for art theft. This is the day, on the face of it so ordinary, on which Justin Cartwirght’s explosive novel opens, as all five members of the family try to come to terms with the return of Juliet, and their deepest thoughts and darkest secrets are laid bare.
6. The Accidental Family By Rowan Coleman
Six months ago, city girl Sophie Mills gave up everything to move to Cornwall. All to be with the man she thinks she loves, and his two irresistible daughters who she knows she loves.
Bu adjusting to life as a semi-permanent mother in the countryside isn’t quite as easy as Sophie imagined it would be. Designer shoes aren’t nearly so readily available – not that she has any occasion to wear them – and her best pair of vintage Manolo’s have already found their way into the girls’ dressing up box. Sometimes Sophie doesn’t recognise herself; which most of the time makes her happy but every now and then scares her to death.
The hardest thing of all is making that final commitment to actually move in with Louis and the girls – she’s well on the way to being the longest paying guest of the Avalon B&B, St Ives in the history of the establishment. And as she tried to adapt to country life, her newly adopted family and discovering more about Louis’s past, she begins to wonder if she’s got what it takes to make it all work…
7. Zennor In Darkness By Helen Dunmore
Spring, 1917, and war haunts the Cornish coastal village of Zennor: ships are being sunk by U-boats, strangers are treated with suspicion, and newspapers are full of spy stories.
Into this turmoil come D. H Lawrence and his German wife, Frieda hoping to escape the war-fever that grips London. They befriend Clare Coyne, a young artist struggling to console her beloved cousin, John William, who is on leave from the trenches and suffering from shell-shock.
Yet the dark tide of gossip and innuendo means that Zennor is neither a place of recovery nor of escape . . .
8. The Holiday Home By Fern Britton
Set on a Cornish cliff, Atlantic House has been the jewel in the Carew family crown for centuries. Each year, the Carew sisters embark on the yearly trip down to Cornwall for the summer holidays, but they are as different as vinegar and honey: Prudence, hard-nosed businesswoman and married to the meek and mild Francis, she is about to get a shock reminder that you should never take anything for granted. Constance, homemaker and loving wife to philandering husband Greg, has always been out-manoeuvred by her manipulative sibling. But now that Pru wants to get her hands on Atlantic House, Connie is not about to take things lying down
9. The House On The Strand By Daphne Du Maurier
When Dick Young’s friend, Professor Magnus Lane, offers him an escape from his troubles in the form of a new drug, Dick finds himself transported to fourteenth-century Cornwall. There, in the manor of Tywardreath, the domain of Sir Henry Champerhoune, he witnesses intrigue, adultery and murder.
The more time Dick spends consumed in the past, the more he withdraws from the modern world. With each dose of the drug, his body and mind become addicted to this otherworld, and his attempts to change history bring terror to the present and put his own life in jeopardy.
10. The Life Of A Scilly Sergeant By Colin Taylor
Sergeant Colin Taylor keeps the streets of Scilly free from anchor thieves, goldfish abductors, and other culprits – some drunken – intent on breaking the law.
And in this book, he tells us exactly how her does it!
11. In Her Wake By Amanda Jennings
A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.
A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.
Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.
12. Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Campervan By Ali McNamara
When Ana inherits a broken-down camper van from her best friend, she takes the chance for a quick trip to Cornwall – some sea air and fish and chips on the beach is just the tonic she needs.
But St Felix has bigger plans for Ana. She discovers a series of unsent postcards, dating back to the 1950s, hidden in the upholstery of the van. Ana knows that it’s a sign: she’ll make sure that the messages reach the person that they were meant for. And as the broken-down van is restored to gleaming health, so Ana begins to find her way back to happiness.
13. Ross Poldark By Winston Graham
Ross Poldark is the first novel in Winston Graham’s hugely popular Poldark series, which has become a television phenomenon starring Aidan Turner.
Tired from a grim war in America, Ross Poldark returns to his land and his family. But the joyful homecoming he has looked forward to turns sour, for his father is dead, his estate is derelict, and the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin
14. Intensive Care By Debby Fowler
Fizzy has a commission to illustrate a locally written children’s book and during her sketching expeditions around St. Ives, she encounters a small boy. His image haunts her – where has she seen him before? After a frantic dash to Oxford to look at some old school photos she has him placed. A reluctant Inspector Penrose is dragged in and is gradually convinced that the chase isn’t solely after wild geese. The two of them, fighting demons of their own, discover the truth – a complicated tangle of wrecked lives – bringing Felicity to face up to another tragedy in her past
15. The Camomile Lawn By Mary Wesley
Behind the large house, the fragrant camomile lawn stretches down to the Cornish cliffs. Here, in the dizzying heat of August 1939, five cousins have gathered at their aunt’s house for their annual ritual of a holiday. For most of them, it is the last summer of their youth, with the heady exhilarations and freedoms of lost innocence, as well as the fears of the coming war around the corner.
16. Caught Out In Cornwall By Janie Bolitho
When Rose Trevelyan sees a young girl being carried away by someone who appears to be her father, she thinks nothing of it. Until, that is, the appearance of a frantic mother who cannot find her child. Beth Jones is only 4, and her mother is adamant that the man Rose saw taking her away must be a stranger
17. Up With The Larks: Starting Again In Cornwall By Tessa Hainsworth
Having given up a high-powered job and the lifestyle to match, Tessa Hainsworth had no idea how hard she would struggle when, full of optimism, she fulfilled her dream of moving to rural Cornwall with her young family one September. Within months, she is almost ready to return to London, tail between her legs: her husband is still out of work, her children are struggling in a cold, damp, tumbledown house and the family is running out of money – fast. But a chance encounter in the local post office leads her to accept the unlikeliest of job offers.
18. The Forgotten Garden By Kate Morton
On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned after a gruelling ocean voyage from England to Australia. All she can remember of the journey is that a mysterious woman she calls the Authoress had promised to look after her. But the Authoress has vanished without a trace.
Now an old lady, Nell travels to England to discover the truth about her parentage. Her quest leads her to Cornwall, and to a beautiful estate called Blackhurst Manor, which had been owned by the Mountrachet family. What has prompted Nell’s journey after all these years?
On Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into a surprise inheritance. Cliff Cottage, in the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, is notorious amongst the locals for the secrets it holds – secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is at Cliff Cottage, abandoned for years, and in its forgotten garden, that Cassandra will uncover the truth about the family and why the young Nell was abandoned all those decades before.
19. A Cornish Orphan By Sheila Jefferies
Following a terrible storm, seven-year-old Lottie is rescued from a shipwreck by local Cornishman, Arnie Lanroska. Her clothing suggests she comes from a wealthy family, but Lottie’s back bears the scars of a severe beating, and how she came to be on a cargo ship in the first place remains a mystery . . .
Arnie and his wife already have two young children, Matt and Tom, but are desperate to keep Lottie. They decide to foster her, despite outcries from the local community, and though Matt appears hesitant to get close to Lottie, Tom quickly warms to the new sister in his life.
But when tragedy strikes the very heart of the Lanroska family, the repercussions could change the lives of everyone close to them . . .
20. The Fire Child By S K Tremayne
When Rachel marries handsome David and moves to a beautiful house in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.
But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and her perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother. As September slips away and December looms, Rachel grows increasingly suspicious of her husband – and begins to suspect there might be truth in Jamie’s words:
‘YOU WILL BE DEAD BY CHRISTMAS’
21. The Shell Seekers By Rosamunde Pilcher
Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are.
Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.
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