It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett, and sharing my review: published on 15th April by Boldwood Books, it’s now available as an ebook, paperback and audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading ecopy (provided via netgalley).
Do you know, I’ve always been rather annoyed with myself that I haven’t read more of Jo Bartlett’s lovely books. She joined me here for a chat way back in 2016, when Somebody Else’s Boy was published (you can read it again here) – but the only book I’ve ever managed to fit in was a novella, The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come, and I really loved that one (you’ll find the review here). But I’m so delighted to see that Jo has now signed a twelve book deal with Boldwood, and I’m really looking forward to following the Cornish Midwife series.
Let’s take a closer look…
WELCOME TO THE BEAUTIFUL SEASIDE TOWN OF PORT AGNES.
A fresh start…
Midwife Ella Mehenick left the small Cornish town of Port Agnes for London and never looked back. But when her seemingly perfect life crashes down around her, there’s only one place she can heal her battered heart – the place she once called home.
A new arrival…
Ella is quickly welcomed into the small community midwife team and loves her new job caring for mums and their precious babies – it’s what she does best! But being back also means facing ex-flame Dan Ferguson…the first man to break her heart.
A second chance at love?
Dan is still as gorgeous as ever, but he’s never forgiven Ella for leaving. And now she’s back it’s clear that there is unfinished business between them. As Ella settles into her new/old life, she can’t stop the memories of how she once loved Dan so completely – and maybe never stopped.
Maybe coming home to Cornwall is Ella’s chance to love again…
Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes – where community, friendship and love are always delivered. An uplifting and escapist read, perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Jessica Redland and Holly Martin: this book was previously published as Return to Port Agnes.
I knew I was going to enjoy this book from its opening chapter – the author’s style draws you in, I immediately liked (and really felt for) Ella and her wonderful parents, and I really wanted to find out how she put her life back together after her disappointment and very public humiliation. At the height of her midwifery profession in a London hospital (with her certificates on display behind the counter in her parents’ seafront bakery), she decides to return home to Port Agnes, covering the six month absence of a member of the community midwife team – and as she comes to terms with her return, and tries to decide whether it’s where she plans to make her future, the book is filled with a succession of small dramas within the community of the kind only the unpredictably of childbirth and babies can bring.
Ella herself is very much at the heart of the story, as she settles back into family life, running across old friends and getting to know the other members of the midwifery team. When she went away, she left behind Dan, the love of her life – now a successful property developer (with rather higher standards that Ella’s father believes), their paths cross once more, and there’s still the same spark that it might just be possible to fan into a flame. Her father has rather higher hopes for a relationship with her childhood friend Brae, who runs the fish and chip shop, and does everything he can to push them together – with some moments that are deliciously embarrassing and very funny indeed. But as well as following Ella’s love life, we also find out about the lives of the rest of the midwifery team, and those of others in the well-drawn Port Agnes community – all those little ups and downs of life, and the perfect way to start a new series as you get to know them all rather better.
The whole cast is excellent, but I really must say a special word for Ella’s parents. She was something of a miracle baby herself, and being in her thirties doesn’t stop them treating her like their precious little girl – and I found that particularly lovely. Her father Jago is a quite wonderful character – a proud Cornishman, fierce about the changes brought about with all the incomers and second-home owners, and I really loved his passion, however many problems it might cause.
I always really enjoy books with a strong sense of place and community, and you won’t find it done much better than this. The whole book has the feel of a Sunday night series, that strong central story line and established characters interspersed with dramatic moments they encounter – the obvious comparison is Call the Midwife, but with a contemporary setting, but (perhaps because of its setting too) I couldn’t help getting more of a feeling of Doc Martin (and they’re both series I always enjoy). And it also has the feel of a really involving saga, although I know that’s not a term often used for a story very much set in the present day.
I enjoyed it very much – a light and easy read, but with plenty of drama to keep the pages turning, filled with warmth, plenty of gentle humour, a few real tugs at the heartstrings, some great dramatic tension, a lovely touch of romance, and just a really perfect book to start a new series. I’ll be looking forward to my next visit to Port Agnes – there are a few friends I’d like to catch up with, and I rather like it there.
About the author
Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing in between her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with her family and three dogs on the Kent coast. Boldwood is publishing the first title in The Cornish Midwife Series – part of a twelve-book deal – in April 2021.