Sam Lovell is a young woman who has an idea – to lift the profile of Porthmellow with a food festival. The small Cornish village is struggling to maintain the fishing and small businesses, and Sam was born and brought up in the lovely place which holds all of her memories, good and bad. This is a book filled with emotion which deals with lost love and a sense of betrayal against a yearly food festival which brings the community to life. There is also joy, humour and more as the personalities which liven up life in Porthmellow weigh in to make Sam’s life more exciting. This is a well written easy read which sums up some of the dilemmas faced by people in real life, as memories of past traumas threaten to upset any chance of reconciliation and more. It is not only Sam who needs a new start and a supportive community; Chole is a woman of secrets and few friends. The big event is the return of a television chef to the village, and it is not only his celebrity that causes problems; his return reawakens emotions for Sam that she had fought to come to terms with over years. This is the first book in a series featuring the very special village of Porthmellow, and it is a wonderful introduction to the life of people living in a community.
The book begins with a prologue – Sam meeting some friends in 2008, including the older harbour master who bemoans the sight of the young people jumping into the sea for excitement. Sam has had her problems; following the untimely death of her mother she has been left to bring up her younger sister Zennor alone. She has begun a small business, Stargazy Pie, but it is a struggle to earn enough. Her older brother Ryan has left their lives under circumstances which she tries to forget, but it is partly to distract herself that she has the inspiration, along with her friends Drew and Troy, to begin a food and music festival.
Eleven years later the festival has grown and now needs a group of people to run it. Chloe is an events organiser who has just moved to the village, but her enthusiasm is concealing an estrangement with her family and more. When their main attraction, a famous chef, cancels his involvement with the festival, Chloe contacts Gabe Mathias, a television chef who agrees to come and do cookery demonstrations. She thinks she has achieved a great deal, whereas Sam knows the local boy made good only too well. As the festival gets nearer, strange events seem to threaten, Sam has a difficult time, and Chloe has to take action. Can the festival go ahead, and will Sam be able to concentrate?
This is a deeply impressive book which looks at some people’s experiences in a sympathetic and realistic way. It flows well, looking at some of the emotions people in the community experience, and the decisions they must make. The festival organisation provokes strong feelings in the community, and Sam and her closest friends must sort out some tough challenges. I really enjoyed the sense of community in this book, and some of the events are quite moving. I am certainly keen to read more books in this series, and find out if this is indeed the perfect village in every season.
With the situation currently in the UK, more people than ever are staying in Britain for holidays this year. I suppose that books like this can tempt people to want to visit certain parts of Britain, or more usefully give a flavour of lives in places that we only have ideas of, or bring back memories of past visits. I seem to have discovered quite a lot based in Cornwall, whereas I will actively seek out books depicting Northumberland. Are there books which are based in certain parts of Britain which you enjoy? Can authors truly manage to capture a sense of place for you as well as tell a good story? What do you think?