BY TERRI NIXON
Genre: Historical Saga
Release Date: 01 December 2016
Publisher: Piatkus Books
1910. Anna Garvey arrives in Caernoweth, Cornwall with her daughter and a secret. Having come from Ireland to take up an inheritance of the local pub, she and her eighteen year-old daughter Mairead are initially viewed with suspicion by the close-knit community.
Anna soon becomes acquainted with Freya Penhaligon, a vulnerable girl struggling to keep her family business afloat in the wake of her grandmother’s death, and starts to gain the trust of the locals. As their friendship deepens, and Freya is brought out of her shell by the clever and lively Mairead, even Freya’s protective father Matthew begins to thaw.
But when a part of Anna’s past she’d long tried to escape turns up in the town, she is forced to confront the life she left behind – for her sake and her daughter’s too . . .
I have to confess to having a real soft spot for sagas. There are also occasions when a book comes along that grabs you and pulls you in right from page one. Penhaligon’s Attic ticks both those boxes.
When she was eight, Freya Penhaligon’s Spanish mother left her father Matthew and moved to London where Freya was educated. Returning home in her late teens Freya now helps her grandfather run Penhaligon’s Attic, a second hand book shop in Caernoweth.
A woman with a secret, Anna Garvey arrives in the village from Ireland with daughter Mairead to take up ownership of her inheritance, The Tinner’s Arms.
Caernoweth, a small Cornish fishing and mining community, is wary of strangers but slowly with her willingness to help others Anna becomes accepted into village life. When Freya’s grandfather Robert is taken ill, Anna sends Mairead to work in the book shop and look after Robert. This enables Freya to continue with her job at the local hotel, helping to support the family. Through this day to day connection with the Penhaligons Anna meets and becomes involved with Freya’s father. Fisherman Matthew Penhaligon has a chequered past. Alcohol has caused major problems in his life, including the loss of his wife, his boat and the respect of the villagers. But he is over that now and hoping his relationship with Anna will open the door to new possibilities and second chances for both of them. His fragile hopes are dashed, however, when a former friend turned foe returns to the village with a score to settle.
I loved this book. It’s a rich story filled with so many well drawn individuals, some likeable, some not so much. You really become immersed in life in this small community. It provides lots of extra interest too, with sub plots and some great support characters who are cleverly woven into the main storyline. The writer keeps you guessing about what exactly Anna and Mairead are running from. And when it is eventually revealed, you wonder how there can possibly be a happy ending.
A wonderful read with enough unfinished business for a sequel – yes I’m really hoping there’s going to be a return to Caernoweth some time in the future.
Eight-year-old Freya Penhaligon has woken in the night to a storm; aware that her fisherman father is at sea, and has not returned as expected, she sneaks from the family home to go down to the beach and wait for news.
The strength of the wind took Freya’s breath away, until she learned to turn her head to the side and down. She waited until she was able to see a little better, and watched her own feet as they sloshed through puddles towards the gate of Hawthorn Cottage, and then onto the lane. Now she could hear the sea, and smell it too, that fresh, salt tang right off the water. She strained for the sound of someone coming up the hill, for voices, footsteps, even laboured breathing, but there was only the howling wind and the boom of the tide.
Within five minutes she was tasting sea-spray on her lips, and only then did she raise her face to stare forwards, into the driving rain. Lightning flickered, and left her with an imprint of the shoreline, but she could see no people in the lingering image. Boats had been dragged as high up the beach as they could go, turned upside-down and secured with ropes and weights, but in the dark she couldn’t read the names. The bigger boats, including Papá’s Isabel, would be anchored around the headland where the harbour provided some shelter.
The black sea rolled, looking like some huge, hump-backed monster, with white eyes that only opened when it struck rocks or the breakwater; the tide was halfway up the beach, but Freya couldn’t remember how to work out if it was on its way in or out. She shouted, in case there was anyone there, but her voice was whipped away on the wind – she would find some shelter and wait.
For the first time in her life Freya felt a surge of anger towards the Papá’s friend Mr Fry; he should have turned the trawler back to shore as soon as it became dangerous, and if he had done that, Papá would already be home. Safe and dry and snoring. There was a sudden stinging in her nose and throat, and although she couldn’t feel the tears she knew they were there. Shivering, she found the place where the breakwater met the sea wall, pulled Grace’s coat straight and sat on it. She shoved her wet hands beneath her armpits and wished she’d thought to pick up gloves, then she lowered her head so her face was tucked into the little dry, quiet pocket formed by her arms and her raised knees, and waited.
After what might have been five minutes, but equally might have been an hour or more, she thought she heard something. A voice? She lifted her head, and turned it to lessen the noise of the wind. The storm was finally abating, and the sound had come from the other side of the breakwater… Freya stood up and brushed the sand off her frozen, wet hands, then felt her way through the dark, up the steps and onto the breakwater. The wind was louder up here, and gusted hard, but she heard the call again, coming from just ahead.
The thunder had gone from deafening shout to low grumble, and the swell of the sea was more rhythmic now, less fiercely unpredictable. Still, the water washed across the stone at her feet and she slipped more than once; it had been a dangerous idea to come out here, even if it meant she might find whoever was looking for her… A gull’s cry sounded, and Freya’s heart skittered, then sank as she recognised the sound. There was no one here after all, just a hungry bird. Papá said gulls would sometimes even fly at night, in order to get at the smaller fish washed up by the incoming tide.
The disappointment was almost painful, but it told her one important thing; the tide was halfway in after all, which meant Freya would need to get back up to the foot of the cliff, or perhaps even further back, to remain safe while she waited. She turned to make her way back to the beach, but a fresh surge from the sea caused her to hurry and her foot went out from under her once again. Steadying herself on one hand and one knee, she started to rise, all her attention on the safety that waited at the other end of the breakwater, and a moment later she was slapped from head to boots from behind, thrown forwards, and then crushed flat by the weight of the wave. Dragging a ragged, shocked breath, she struggled to her knees, but the backwash stole her balance once more and sent her sliding towards the edge.
Her hands slapped around frantically, trying to find something to grip, but there was only smooth stone and the tug of the tide running back to the shoreline, pulling her with it. And then she was tumbling into empty air.
Amazon UK Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Penhaligons-Attic-Penhaligon-Terri-Nixon/dp/0349412650
Amazon UK E-book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Penhaligons-Attic-Penhaligon-Terri-Nixon-ebook/dp/B01GHMZZ0Y
Amazon US E-book: https://www.amazon.com/Penhaligons-Attic-Penhaligon-Terri-Nixon-ebook/dp/B01GHMZZ0Y
ABOUT TERRI NIXON
Terri was born in Plymouth in 1965. At the age of 9 she moved with her family to Cornwall, to the village featured in Jamaica Inn — North Hill — where she discovered a love of writing that has stayed with her ever since. She also discovered apple-scrumping, and how to jump out of a hayloft without breaking any bones, but no-one’s ever offered to pay her for doing those.
Since publishing in paperback for the first time in 2002, Terri has appeared in both print and online fiction collections, and is proud to have contributed to the Shirley Jackson award-nominated hardback collection: Bound for Evil, by Dead Letter Press.
As a Hybrid author, her first commercially published novel was Maid of Oaklands Manor, published by Piatkus Entice (a digital-first imprint of Little, Brown) in 2013. The paperback is published by Piatkus Books. The two further books in this series: A Rose in Flanders Fields and Daughter of Dark River Farm are published by Carina UK (a digital-first imprint of HarperCollins)
Terri’s self-published Mythic Fiction series set in Cornwall, The Lynher Mill Chronicles, is available in paperback and e-book.
Terri also writes under the name T Nixon, and has contributed to anthologies under the names Terri Pine and Teresa Nixon. She is represented by the Kate Nash Literary Agency. She now lives in Plymouth with her youngest son, and works in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, where she is constantly baffled by the number of students who don’t possess pens.
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7161840.Terri_Nixon
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