It’s such a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick: published today by HQ, it’s now available in hardback, for kindle, and as an audiobook, with the paperback to follow in March 2020. My thanks to Joe Thomas at HQ for inviting me to join the tour – and for my advance reading copies, both paperback and e-copy (to make my reading a little easier, provided through netgalley).
I’m really not sure what my excuse or reason is for never having read a book by Liz Fenwick before. Everything told me that I’d love them – the settings, the stories, friends’ reviews, personal recommendations – but they continued to vanish into the depths of my kindle. Whatever was I thinking? Having read The Path to the Sea, I now have another author to add to my list of favourites – and I’m just sorry it took me so long…
Boskenna, the beautiful, imposing house standing on the Cornish cliffs, means something different to each of the Trewin women.
For Joan, as a glamorous young wife in the 1960s, it was a paradise where she and her husband could entertain and escape a world where no one was quite what they seemed – a world that would ultimately cost their marriage and end in tragedy.
Diana, her daughter, still dreams of her childhood there – the endless blue skies and wide lawns, book-filled rooms and parties, the sound of the sea at the end of the coastal path – even though the family she adored was shattered there.
And for the youngest, broken-hearted Lottie, heading home in the August traffic, returning to Boskenna is a welcome escape from a life gone wrong in London, but will mean facing a past she’d hoped to forget.
As the three women gather in Boskenna for a final time, the secrets hidden within the beautiful old house will be revealed in a summer that will leave them changed for ever.
The Path to the Sea beautifully evokes the mystery and secrets of the Cornish coast, and will be loved by fans of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.
This lovely book surpassed my expectations in so many ways – my goodness, it was wonderful! I really hadn’t expected a story quite like this, or the complexity of its construction. I will admit it did wrong-foot me at first – after two short attempts to read, I was finding it difficult to grasp the different timelines and found that frustrating (and not really like me at all). But I then managed to carve out an uninterrupted afternoon, an opportunity to immerse myself, and this book delivered so very much more than I’d ever dared to hope for.
Liz Fenwick is a very skilled story teller, and this book draws you in and manipulates your thoughts and feelings in a way I’ve rarely experienced. The shifts in time that I’d been struggling with became entirely natural, a perfect ebb and flow, the dates and relative ages of the women quite evident even without the dates and names in the chapter headings, as the story slipped smoothly backwards and forwards between the timeframes of its settings.
There are three main characters – diplomat’s wife Joan, revisited as the end of her life approaches; Diana, Joan’s young daughter in the earlier part of the story, in her 60s and with an interesting history as she returns to Boskenna House; and Lottie, Diana’s daughter and Joan’s granddaughter, who previously departed under a cloud and returns with secrets of her own. There are points in the story when you take each of them to your heart, and times when their behaviour can make you waver between love, sympathy and anger. The character development is quite breathtaking, the relationships between the women deeply convoluted at an emotional level, their individual stories tied up with the political and historical context – the Cold War, all its smoke and mirrors, the intrigue and suspense, its contemporary impact and its legacy – and the layering of family secrets that follows.
The whole book is an immensely satisfying sensory experience, the author’s descriptive powers quite exceptional – whether it’s the house that so effectively ties the story and its characters’ lives together, the Cornish surroundings of gardens and shore, or the many richly detailed and textured moments that make up the detail of the story. She makes you feel that you’re living in every moment with the characters – whether it’s a dramatic scene on a clifftop, events seen through young Diana’s eyes at a party, or at Joan’s bedside struggling to understand her words as she loses her grip on life.
The story itself consumes you, and its emotional impact is so powerful – guilt at so many levels and for so many reasons, that all-consuming love that makes you ache, the sense of waste and the agony of loss, with the hope of redemption through forgiveness and understanding. I cared so much for this book’s flawed characters, and felt an immense sense of loss when my reading experience was over. A really wonderful read – and very highly recommended.
About the author (from Amazon)
Writer, ex-pat expert, wife, mother of three, and dreamer turned doer….
Award winning author of The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger, Under A Cornish Sky, A Cornish Christmas Carol (novella), The Returning Tide and One Cornish Summer. After nine international moves, I’m a bit of a global nomad. It’s no wonder my heart remains in Cornwall.
My books are available in Dutch, Germany, Portuguese, French, Estonia, Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Turkish, Swedish, Latvian, Serbian and Hungarian.