1916: While the Great War rages through Europe, in the small coastal village of Trunrowan, Cornwall, life for Loveday Nance could not be more different. With her husband Will away fighting, the reality of having a longed-for child of her own seems to be slipping away with each day that passes.
Present-day: Kitty and Ben Gridley decide to leave their busy lives in Bristol hoping for a quieter way of life in the pretty village of Trunrowan, Cornwall. Little do they realise the impact that moving into Creek Cottage will have on them. When Kitty begins to experience strange things happening at the cottage, she is certain there is a secret harboured within its stone walls.
‘The Secret of Creek Cottage’ is a tale that follows the lives of two families, almost a century apart.
I was delighted to receive a copy of The Secret of Creek Cottage from the author in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Tina for sending me a copy of her beautiful book. Sometimes a book hits the spot precisely, and gives you exactly what you need at the right time, and this was definitely one of those books. I have read some brilliant but ferocious books this month, such as Maria Straw Cinar’s mind-melting novel Girl, and, just prior to this book, Annabel Banks’ acerbic collection of short stories, Exercises in Control. I’m also currently watching the tv series The Boys, which is just so far beyond dark that I can feel it bruising my brain as I watch it. As such, I have been feeling pretty sated with ‘twisted and weird’, and a comfort read was definitely required.
And what a comfort read this book is! This is a really lovely novel: the two parallel stories reflect each other in a way that vaguely reminded me of Virginia Moffat’s Echo Hall, but the touch here is lighter, and the humour much more prominent. The Secret of Creek Cottage is terrific fun to read: the Cornish accents are a delight, and the threads of folklore and paranormal elements are intriguing rather than sinister. I had minor gripes and quibbles with some of the characters – I found Ben rather annoying (don’t ever dismiss your pregnant wife’s concerns as fanciful, my friend) and when Kitty told her friend Lizzie that she was very lucky that her husband was so good with their daughter, my feminist hackles rose! But then this is a charmingly old-fashioned book: the characters are, on the whole, polite and nice to each other, the story bubbles along merrily, soothing as a clear stream and possessing a kind of gentleness, and perhaps even gentility, that really does bring a smile to your face and gladden your heart.
My favourite elements of this delightful book were, firstly, the Cornish setting, complete with my first introduction to the tradition of Droll Tellers (Gribble Gummo was perhaps my favourite character in the book, and – random aside – the ritual that he has Loveday perform at the Standing Stones was a direct echo of one of the stories in Exercises in Control, which is the kind of reading co-incidence that makes me very happy, even though it means nothing to anyone else!) Secondly, the way that Will’s ‘shell shock’, or PTSD as it would now be known, is handled when he comes back from the trenches of World War One is both deeply moving and thought-provoking. It was a bit of a surprise to find such a subject in what is, mostly, a light, funny book, but it is so well done: we can’t blame Will for coming back a changed man, though we feel for Loveday as she tries to re-establish her relationship with her husband.
The secrets and reveals are nicely done, and the book is very well-paced. If you are looking for a gentle read that may just give you some respite from the hurly burly of this crazy year, you will certainly find it in this charming book.
The Secret of Creek Cottage by Tina M Edwards is published by SIlverWood Books and is available to purchase here.