Some books surprise you by being good. Actually, better than expected. A Cornish Stranger is one of them. The British setting, that too of Cornwall, and mention of the War – two things that meant I just had to read this book. And Liz Fenwick did not disappoint.
Gabriella Blythe is at a loose end. She is moving to Cornwall to a remote lakeside cabin to look after her grandmother Jaunty. Jaunty is in her 90s and very frail. Gabriella or Gabe as she is called writes some jingles for a living. She is a has been singer/ piano player but is recovering from a tragedy.
Jaunty is a well known painter but she has been a recluse all her life. The people in the village keep an eye on her. She has stopped seeing well but she doesn’t tell anyone about it.
Gabe or Gabriella – it is actually very confusing that she is called that interchangeably throughout the text – settles into her old home. Then there is a bad storm. Gabriella wakes up and thinks she sees someone in the water. She runs and plunges into the water and battles with her life to save the stranger. This strange man starts living with them.
It seems like Jaunty has a new lease on life. She is totally taken in by the handsome young man. Gabe wonders if there is an unseemly attraction going on there. Meanwhile, she meets a local piano teacher and helps him with a composition.
All through the story, Jaunty writes in a journal because she wants to tell Gabriella the truth about the past. It seems Jaunty has been hiding a lot. The historic narrative has Jaunty in Paris before the war. She meets a young man and is in love. We also learn that Jaunty’s mother was a famous singer, and her father a titled Englishman. As Jaunty fades, we wonder if what she is writing is even legible. At one time, I thought the book might end with no one being able to read what was written.
A Cornish Stranger is a good story. There is suspense for the reader and there is suspense for the characters too. The setting is British, of course, and we get a glimpse of village life. There are many secrets waiting to be revealed and the aura of anticipation is maintained well till the end.
If you love historical mysteries, you will love reading An Appetite for Violets.