I have read and enjoyed several of Fern Britton’s books before and like the others, this is very firmly set in Cornwall (with a diversion to Ealing), but that’s where the similarities end. This book is rather different to her other books as it is set over various time periods and has multiple narrators. This change of direction though has worked really well and I enjoyed following all the different yet connected storylines.
I had the privilege of attending a Zoom chat with Fern Britton and some of the other bloggers taking part in the blogtour a couple of weeks ago. Huge thanks to Liz Dawson for organising this. It was so lovely to talk with Fern and hear about how much of the book was inspired by her own family’s fascinating history. I asked how she decided what balance of fact and fiction to use in the book. She explained that since her grandmother had kept an early part of her life so secret for so long, she knew the basic facts of what happened but had to use her imagination to fill in the gaps. Just as in this book, there are clearly many strong women in Fern Britton’s ancestry.
Here is a photo from the session. It looks like it’s just me and Fern but I hadn’t asked permission to use the other attendees photos so thought it best just to crop to the two of us.
Daughters of Cornwall is a multi-generational tale beginning around the time of the First World War with Clara Carter. She has had a difficult childhood but is determined to reinvent and better herself. When she meets soldier Bertie Bolitho, love blossoms between them but the war of course tears them apart. Fast forward to the Second World War and we meet her daughter Hannah, living in the Bolitho family home at Collyzion. Hannah, along with her brothers, want to do their bit for their country and all head off to war. In the present day, the third generation of Bolitho women Caroline is beginning to uncover some of the secrets of the previous generations and wants to pass on the knowledge of her heritage to her own daughter.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the emphasis on the strength of the women. Every one of the Bolitho women has had challenges to face up to and every one of them has dealt with them in the best way they could. They are all determined that their own children should be protected from their past mistakes and that they should have opportunities to better themselves. I had particular admiration for Clara and all she went through although there was one particular decision of hers I didn’t agree with at all. I won’t say what it was of course, as it is one of the big secrets of the book, but it was an emotional part of the story when that was resolved.
Daughters of Cornwall is a sweeping story spanning 100 years and taking in significant events not just in the history of Britain but also in the lives of the Bolitho women, all of which combine to make them the strong women they are. If you enjoy historical fiction with family secrets waiting to be uncovered, engaging storylines and spirited characters, then this is a book for you.
My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of the tour and to the publishers Harper Collins for the advance e-copy of the book. Daughters of Cornwall is available now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats. If you are able to support an independent bookshop at this time, please order your copy from there. Otherwise, you will find buying options for various retailers on the Harper Collins website here: Daughters of Cornwall
From the back of the book
The Great War is over, and Clara Carter has boarded a train bound for Cornwall – to meet a family that would once have been hers. But they must never discover her secret…
Hannah has always been curious about her mother’s mysterious past, but the outbreak of the Second World War casts everything in a new light. As the bombs begin to fall, Hannah and her brothers are determined to do their bit for the war effort – whatever the cost.
Caroline has long been the keeper of her family’s secrets. But now, with her own daughter needing her more than ever, it’s time to tell the truth – to show Natalie that she comes from a long line of women who have weathered the storms of life, as hardy and proud as the rugged Cornish coastline…
About the author
Fern Britton is a highly acclaimed Sunday Times bestselling author. Her books are cherished for their warmth, wit and wisdom, and have won Fern legions of loyal readers.
A hugely popular household name through iconic shows such as This Morning, Fern is also a much sought-after presenter.
Fern is deeply committed to a number of charities, in particular the Genesis Research Trust. She lives with her husband, Phil Vickery, and her four children in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall.
To find out more, connect with her at http://www.fern-britton.com, @Fern Britton and facebook.com/officialfernbritton