Cornish novels will transport you away from hum drum everyday life in lockdown. Whether your friend or relative is planning on a Cornish beach holiday or just wants to escape, this list of books will guarantee a feel good read and are great gifts.
Cornish Novels by Fern Britton
We love Fern and remember her from the old days when she started her career on Spotlight. Her love of the West Country and Cornwall shines through in her writing and so we start our ultimate list of Cornish novels with a selection of Fern’s work.
Fern’s latest book follows the story of three women from the same family, grandmother, mother and daughter. The story moves between 1918, 1939 and 2020. A novel that will transport you immediately to Cornwall.
Greer Clovelly seems to have it all: beautiful, chic and slender, she’s used to getting her own way. Greer has been in love with Jesse Behenna since her first day at school and she’s determined that one day, they’ll be married. After all, a marriage between them would join together two dynasties of Cornish fishing families to make one prosperous one.
For her friend, Loveday Carter – plump, freckled and unpretentious – living in the shadow of her friend has become a way of life. She loves Jesse too, but knows that what Greer wants, she usually gets.
Jesse, caught in the middle, faces an agonising choice. Should he follow his heart or bow to his father’s wishes? And what about his best friend Mickey, who worships the ground that Loveday walks on?
Cornish Novels by Liz Fenwick
We can claim to know a friend of Liz’s but sadly not Liz herself. Her daily plotwalks that she shares on Twitter give us a glimpse into her creative process. We share a selection of the fabulous results here.
When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful – Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in.
Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family’s last summer there more than ten years ago.
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.
Cornish Novels by Phillipa Ashley
Demi doesn’t expect her summer in Cornwall to hold anything out of the ordinary. As a waitress, working all hours to make ends meet, washing dishes and serving ice creams seems to be as exciting as the holiday season is about to get.
That’s until she meets Cal Penwith. An outsider, like herself, Cal is persuaded to let Demi help him renovate his holiday resort, Kilhallon Park. Set above an idyllic Cornish cove, the once popular destination for tourists has now gone to rack and ruin. During the course of the Cornish summer, Demi makes new friends – and foes – as she helps the dashing and often infuriating Cal in his quest. Working side by side, the pair grow close, but Cal has complications in his past which make Demi wonder if he could ever truly be interested in her.
For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).
When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.
Cornish Novels by Emma Burstall
Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses painted in yellow, pink and white, cluster around the harbour, where fishermen still unload their daily catch. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant, whitewashed, with bright blue shutters.
Here, Liz has found sanctuary for herself and young daughter, Rosie – far away from Rosie’s cheating father. From early in the morning with her job as a cleaner, till late at night waitressing in the restaurant, Liz works hard to provide for them both.
But trouble is waiting just around the corner. As with all villages, there are tensions, ambitions – and secrets.
The Cornish fishing village of Tremarnock seems to have it all. Charming houses cling to the hillside and cluster round the harbour where fishermen unload their catch each day. Everyone knows everyone, and mostly they look out for each other.
But throw a stranger – a beautiful stranger – into the mix and all bets are off. Chabela Penhallow arrives for a holiday from Mexico to find out more about her Cornish ancestors. But no sooner has she arrived than rumours start to fly. Why has she really come? And what is she running from? Can the inhabitants of Tremarnock discover her secrets before their peaceful seaside village is thrown into turmoil?
Cornish novels by Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne loved Cornwall and spent much of her adult life living near Fowey. Her writing brings to life Cornish places and the stories have a bitter-sweet element. No list of Cornish novesl would be complete without her.
While not the most popular this is our favourite Du Maurier novel.
The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will alter the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for freedom, honest love – and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger.
To escape the shallowness of court life, Dona retreats to Navron, her husband’s remote Cornish estate. There, she seeks peace in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. But she finds instead a daring pirate, hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment’s joy. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger and glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.
On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband’s home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.
Rosamund Pilcher novels of Cornwall
Sadly we lost Rosamund in 2019 but she leaves a stunning legacy of Cornish literature. Her writing has had a direct impact on Cornish tourism as she is extremely popular in Germany.
Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are.
Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.
Laura, newly married and ever conscious she may be living in the shadow of her husband Alec’s first wife, decides to take a holiday with his family in Cornwall. Through the long hot summer days she is slowly charmed by the beautiful old house and the people she learns to know and love. In time her uneasy spirit is soothed by the sparkling, brilliant sea, and her restless heart finally calmed.
But is this new-found tranquillity too good to be true? For with the arrival of an anonymous letter, one accusing her of having an affair, Laura’s world is thrown into turmoil . . .
Poldark novels of Cornwall by Winston Graham
We love the Poldark novels so much that we have created a gift list dedicated to all things Poldark. No Cornish novel reading list would be complete without a nod to Ross Poldark…
How to get more Inspired Gift Ideas
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