Cornish tale coasts along - book review
Somewhere Beyond the Sea
Long sandy Cornish beaches, a budding romance and a touch of magic – all the ingredients for a perfect summer read.
So much affection and familiarity is written into almost every line of this book that you would assume it was written by a born-and-bred resident of St Ives, where it is set, not a Black Country lass.
Author Miranda Dickinson clearly has an intense love of the area and its history, which seeps through in every chapter.
Sunday Times bestselling author Miranda lives in Dudley and has previously told how her first ambition was “to write a book worthy of display on the shelves of wonderful Kingswinford Library, which, at the time, was not much bigger than somebody’s living room, but to wide-eyed five-and-a-half year old me was a palace of dreams.”
With this her ninth book, having been published in seven languages and sold over half a million copies, she is now guaranteed a good spot in the library and is one of the Black Country’s celebrated sons and daughters.
But St Ives has clearly won a place in her heart and made a lasting impression with her latest chick-lit novel having been conceived a couple of years ago in the picturesque coastal town.
In fact much of it was written overlooking gorgeous Porthmeor Beach, her favourite, and regular visitors will no doubt recognise places, or maybe even themselves, such as Aggie’s beach café which is based on the Porthgwidden Beach café
The novel follows the stories of shop owner Seren MacArthur and young father Jack Dixon who are both recently bereaved and both struggling with both emotional and financial challenges. Fate seems to intervene as their paths are repeatedly brought together.
They find themselves on opposite sides of a planning battle with Jack managing the redevelopment of a historic site, the derelict former home of a much-loved local astronomer, while Seren rallies the townsfolk in a fight to hold onto the building.
Despite being on opposite sides of the fence with fierce reasons to fight for their cause, they actually have more in common than they know.
Seren’s grief at the loss of her father is clearly quite overwhelming for her and is the motivation for almost everything she does. It comes across as very raw and touches the reader. Jack’s loss is very different and it is not until the closing chapters that he, and we the readers, really understand it. Their grief is very vividly portrayed and may reflect the fact that Dickinson’s own father died suddenly while she was writing the book. It is a theme examined in detail through the two characters.
Despite this sadness, and the blows that life deals both Seren and Jack, it is a warm and magical book. There is empathy and affection for the protagonists and it is a book that gives us all a little hope. The perfect book to have in your bag, or on your Kindle, when you hit the beach or relax in the heatwave.
Review by Diane Davies