I love books….I mean I really love books. I have thousands. They’ve escaped the confines of the bookcases and shelving and now spread throughout the house in zig-zagging piles in the corridors and in every room. I think my husband would like it if I had less books…the fact that I got another 12 for Christmas does not help his cause! It’s just a pity that I don’t have enough hours in life to read all the books that I want to and my current project is to turn our summer house into a library for myself and my little boy.
Whilst browsing the lovely shop at Wisley Gardens in the summer, I came across Summer At The Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley. Two things caught my eye – the cover showing a lovely, picturesque tea room and the word ‘cornish’. I’ve been to Cornwall every summer for nearly 39 years, I love it there and long for my annual week in this beautiful part of the country. My trip was not far away and I was looking for a book to read. and this became the chosen one that I could read in the evenings, overlooking the sea.
Summer At The Cornish Cafe is the first in a trilogy which tells the story of a young girl called Demi who finds herself leaving her job rather rapidly at a beach cafe and going to work for the brooding Cal Penwith at his beautiful, if not a little ruinous, home of Kilhallon. A sprawling Cornish country estate in need of a lot of love. Demi needs a new job and fast. Cal has just returned from a long trip abroad to find life has moved on without him. He needs to sort his life out fast too. After a few uncertain days Demi finds herself employed by Cal to help sort out the estate and bring it back to life.
I love finding new writers and I am so pleased that I’ve discovered Phillipa Ashley. I was hooked from the very first page and just couldn’t put it down. Her writing is honest, engaging, funny, sexy and I was involved with the characters and their story from the start. The images that she creates of Cornwall are evocative of summer days spent walking along coastal paths, browsing little shops in harbour side towns and staring at beautiful old houses – wondering who lives there. She switches the point of view so the story is told from both Demi and Cals viewpoint and this is done effortlessly and seamlessly ensuring the story doesn’t repeat or stall along the way. I really like this ‘two sides to every story’ approach and it made me think about how other people see situations and what people say.
You cannot help but fall in love with the heroine, Demi or the smuldering, intense and deeply private Cal – if you are a fan of the dark and brooding Poldark then you’ll love this!
Having read the first book, I couldn’t wait to read the second in the series – Christmas At The Cornish Cafe. This picks up only a short time after the first book finishes, and although continues the story, there are enough moments which provide backstory which means you could read it as a stand-alone book.
We continue the journey of Demi and Cal and Kilhallon, but Christmas has arrived and everyone is preparing for the festive season. It reminded me of the many times I have been to Cornwall during the winter, the different events, the glasses of mulled wine looking out to sea, the festive harbour lights and desperately trying to find my way back to cottages in pitch black country lanes wishing I had remembered my torch!
Once again, I was hooked and having fallen in love with the characters in the first book, like a sequel to my favourite movie I was desperate to know what happened to them next. There are moments when you oo and ahh and moments when I gasped, shouted and wanted to throw the book out of the window as I was so cross at certain characters. Phillipa Ashley’s writing is easy to read, full of beautiful descriptions, real characters and draws you into the world she creates.
The third book in the series, Confetti at the Cornish café comes out in paperback on Feb 22nd, and my copy has already been pre-ordered. However, if you are a fan of Kindle then you can get this book already. And if like me you too become hooked on life in Cornwall, then you can follow this trilogy with the Cornish Isles series which explores life on the Scilly Isles. Having discovered the Scilly Isles last summer for the first time and fallen in love with it, I know what books I will be asking for, for my birthday this year.
Happy reading everyone!