A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley – Can Sam concentrate on a Festival in Porthmellow?

A Perfect Cornish Summer


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?



Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley – can Demi cope with a wedding in Kilhallon?

Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley


A book which whisks the reader to Cornwall is always a treat, and this one talks realistically about the weather and farming inconveniences, as well as the problems of event organisations. One of a series based on Kilhallon Resort, it features some complicated relationships between families, especially where Demi and Cal are concerned. Old grudges and past hurts are brought into the story, as well as some notoriously difficult characters. Another big issue, of the ongoing search for a child in a challenging situation, dominates the thoughts of one of the characters. The main plot of this book relates to Demi’s attempt to turn the resort into a natural wedding venue. Rather than starting small, however, they are offered the chance to host the informal wedding of two popular celebrities, actors Lily Craig and Ben Trevone. With the eyes of the media on them, can Demi and her team pull off organising the celebrity wedding of the year as their first venture? Or will the odds stack up against them? With human difficulties and challenges of a canine nature, will there be calamity or confetti in a corner of Cornwall?


Demi narrates much of the story, as she worries about the sheer logistics of expanding from her successful new cafe with its memorable menu to catering for a designer wedding. She manages to enlist one of her family/ friends to act as a wedding planner to hire in various companies to provide different elements of the reception. Unfortunately Lily and Ben’s entourage throw in some extra demands which adds to Demi’s stress. Meanwhile relatives and locals with involvement in the area are not always keen to help; Mawgan is a difficult and wealthy woman in the village who is keen to scrape an aquaintance with Lily and Ben in order to get in on the act. Cal’s interest and involvement is genuine, but he is distracted by a person from the past. While the major selling point of the resort is the beauty of the area and its isolation, but the weather is not always kind. When Lily and Ben make a preliminary visit to the area, drama erupts centred around Lily’s small dog, Louie, to whom she is very attached.  Harry is her bodyguard, but he is obviously very fond of her and takes many risks. 


I found this a well written book which drew me into complex relationships which were established before the opening of this novel. I enjoyed it as a standalone book without having encountered the previous books in the set, because Ashley is a good writer who handles her material so well it is entertaining on its own. The small elements such as Demi’s particular recipes for treats for the cafe are well explored. I also enjoyed the idea of Demi’s pride in her book of treats for dogs, which fits in well with one of the non speaking characters in the book, Mitch the dog. The characters in this book are very well drawn, even to the minor ones mentioned, and the ending more than satisfactory. I recommend this as a light read which is very easy to enjoy.   


I am still searching around for books that take my interest, and sometimes I am not able to find other books in the series. If it was possible I would no doubt be hunting around for others in the series. As it is I am so keen to read lighter books that I am not always too worried waiting sort out the correct order. So, here is one of Phillipa’s books, and I believe I have a couple of her others in a different series to come. I have been getting some books from other places, so who knows what will turn up next? I might even climb over some of daughter’s stuff…