A Cornish Promise by Terri Nixon – a novel of emotions and drama set in a Cornish hotel in 1929

A Cornish Promise by Terri Nixon

Fox Bay Hotel is in Cornwall, run by the Fox family and their associates in 1929. Exclusive and run on a family basis, in the approach to Christmas everyone who works in and around the hotel is busy working on the traditional celebrations. In this book the youngest daughter, Fiona, acquires a friend who confuses many issues, but who she has promised to help. This is the second book in the series, but I am confident that it can be read alone as it is well explained and each character’s background sketched in. It is a well written and constructed book, with family members and friends’ lives all seen as progressing. As well as Fiona’s mysterious friend, there are some unusual guests from America, whose involvement with the film industry makes them celebrities. There are many twists and turns in this book, and the author maintains a good sense of tension throughout which leaves the reader wondering. It details the emotional state of the characters extremely well, where people are unsure of their feelings for others, and how they can express their affection. This book covers a few weeks before Christmas, and balances the various strands of individuals’ stories as they either work in or around the hotel. It is an engaging read, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this most enjoyable book. 

The novel opens with Fiona being in the lifeboat station, observing a rescue at sea. A woman is not allowed to go to sea on the lifeboat, especially at sixteen, but Fiona is desperate to do more than help launch and land the boat, so she seizes the opportunity to sneak on board and help with the dangerous rescue of those on a small boat. A man dies, but what turns out to be a teenage girl is rescued alive. She spends a night in hospital, but asks for Fiona to help her. Claiming that she has lost her memory, she asks Fiona to help her, and Fiona duly promises. It only gradually emerges that “Amy” has several versions of her story, and several people are drawn into her situation. Meanwhile Bertie, Fiona’s elder sister who has suffered a life changing injury, is unsure what comes next for her; while romantically attached  to a family friend, she has an ambition that may be difficult to fulfil. Helen, mother of the girls, is confused about her emotions, but takes refuge in her role at the hotel. A group from Hollywood scrambles the attention of several people, especially the beautiful and clever Daisy and the mysterious Freddie. The romantic lives of various friends of the family are vividly described, culminating in several revelations.

This book is extremely effective at describing the emotional confusion that several of the characters find themselves in, as affection and romance is realistically not straightforward. Nixon does an excellent job of establishing that while several people find themselves attracted to others, it is not always easy to express that feeling. When combined with the challenging behaviour of Amy and the curious secrecy surrounding the American party, this is a complex book which reflects the fact that it is part of a series. This is a warm hearted novel which I greatly enjoyed reading, especially as each character is drawn in a multi dimensional way. This is a very rewarding series of books, and I recommend it to everyone who is interested in the interwar period in Britain. 

A Cornish Inheritance by Terri Nixon – A story of the 1920s featuring women who must make changes

 

Love, tragedy and lies are all on the beautiful Cornish coast, in the first book in a series which describes the fate of a family. Helen is a woman who seems to have everything; a wealthy husband, three children, and a lovely lifestyle. A tragedy means that she must relearn how to live, and readjust her views of the life she has always lived. This 1920, and many people around the family are carrying scars which are not always obvious. Those who were lost, those who witnessed terrible things, those who have worked hard to keep things going even when economic depression begins to hit, all have a role to play in what emerges as a community in and around the Fox Bay Hotel. As people, especially the children, grow and change, there is much about the obsessions that people have and affect their lives. Some pretend, some are truthful, but all are seeking their best way to live. This book manages to take a wide sweep through various lives, but also put in the details that set and define the scene. The countryside is described as a place of work as well as beautiful scenery. The author has exerted every effort to establish and develop the characters, and does an amazing job of testing each one to the limits. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

The book begins with a motorcycle race in which emotions are exposed like never before, and a significant event takes place. The action then reverts to the past, and a party at which Helen is convinced that everyone knows something that she has been excluded from by Harry.The party also displays the social front that Helen and her husband Harry Fox put on; popular, lively and definitely the centre of a group of friends. A rapid change of fortunes sees the family at the Fox Bay hotel, adjusting to new circumstances and meeting new people. It is all extremely well described and moving in the depth of feeling conveyed.The hotel has a wealthy and well connected clientele which is attracted by its reputation and location. As Helen becomes more involved in the running of the hotel, she becomes more concerned by her children. She does however, make a friend, the lively Leah Marshall, who seeks to hide her tragic past behind a self confidence and ability to convince people of different things. 

 

This book is a moving evocation of a period in the twentieth century when women were being forced to find new ways to live. It revels in the details of life at the time, and conveys a near visual image of the surroundings of a hotel that would have been a desirable place to stay. There are well constructed plot twists which can surprise, as well as logical outcomes of carefully worked out characters. The women described in the book are tough and determined when they need to be, even when they have been passive previously. I found it a refreshing and informative book in terms of what women could actually do and the effect they could have on those around them. This book also sets up some fascinating threats to be taken up in subsequent books in the series, and makes me keen to find out more about the Fox family. Altogether this is a well written book with much to offer the reader.