Title: Daughters of Cornwall
Author: Fern Britton
Published: 11th of June 2020 – Harper Collins
Format: eARC (PDF) – 394 pages
‘I shall not be beaten,’ she would say. ‘Women could run the world, given half a chance.’ – Daughters of Cornwall
Hello Hello! How are you?
Starting another cold and wet week in France, I have quite a bit of reading and office work to do over the next week, so I’ll be inside in the warm!
Today I’m bringing you a blog tour for a lovely book that I’ve been really looking forward to and it definitely didn’t disappoint! You know how much I love historical fiction, so you know that I jumped on the occasion to read this book, keep reading to find what I thought!
1918. The Great War is over, and Clara Carter has boarded a train bound for Cornwall – to meet a family that would once have been hers. But they must never discover her secret…
2020. Caroline has spent years trying to uncover the lies buried in her family history. And once she arrives in Cornwall, the truth finally seems to be in reach. Except with storm clouds gathering on the horizon, Caroline soon learns that some secrets are best left hidden…
Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton is a historical fiction novel set primarily in Cornwall, first during the First World War, during the Second World War, in th aftermath of both wars and in present-day. This book follows three generations of Bolitho women, the daughters of Cornwall through their lives, the war, among their family and as they come to terms with the way the world is changing and how they have to stand up for one another.
As you know, historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, and I was so excited when I read the blurb for this one! I adore books set during WWII, and I found this one so special because of how it starts before WWI, and it just keeps going through the generations, so you can really get a feel for what it would have been like to live during those times, the atrocities people had to live through and the decisions they had to take, the secrets they had to keep and the promises they had to make.
This book is set in Cornwall and this place is really important to the story because it is where the characters come from. At the end of the book, it is said that they are “daughters of daughters of Cornwall” and I have to say that even though that isn’t exactly true for some of these characters, there is such an emphasis on the place, that you can’t help but find the book inspiring.
Some parts of the book also took place in France during WWI, it was really different to actually have the side of the soldiers as it’s quite rare in the historical fiction that I have read. I really enjoyed these parts, even though they were hard to read and emotional, I think it really helped me to understand what people had to live through and just how resilient they were.
Other parts of the book take part in London, Kent, Penang (Malay), and at army training camps, and all together, these different locations really helped to turn this book into something that was relatable and it made it feel like I was right there with all the characters. This book had a multitude of different settings and atmospheres, and I thought that it was a really good story in which the setting brought everyone and everything together.
There are so many characters in this book and I liked reading about so many of them, but if I were to tell you what I thought of each, we would be here until Christmas, so instead, I’ll just talk about those we could call the three main characters.
Clara: Clara’s is the first perspective and narrative that we get in this book and I liked her immediately. My thoughts about her cooled a bit towards the end of the book, but at the start of the book, she was a really enjoyable character. She goes through so much and I would say the main string of all these characters is lies, Clara tells so many lies that they eventually become truths, you could definitely see the story spiral out of control a few times and I thought that it was a really great way to describe this character. She had a hard life, but in the end, she was loved and loved others in turn.
Hannah: I had a little spot for Hannah in my heart throughout the novel, at the start she was a bit of a brat, but as she grew up and matured, I thought that she really blossomed and became such an independent, strong-willed and determined young woman. She goes through a lot of things just as her mum does, but she keeps going and doesn’t give up. My favourite part of this novel with this character was when she was doing her training and fighting in the war in the ATS as a female soldier. I found this part so interesting as I hadn’t heard about this other than the women who helped decoding during the war.
Caroline: We don’t get much about Caroline and the little we did get I didn’t really enjoy, I thought that unlike the other women in her family who had gone through hardships and struggled, she was a bit entitled and I really wasn’t a fan of her. She seemed to think that the women in her family who had children out of wedlock were impure and sinful. It’s a perfectly valid opinion to have, but in 2020, it seems a bit strange, especially when you read the chapters about Clara and Hannah and realise that they aren’t as “stuck up” as Caroline, shall we say. I enjoyed Caroline’s chapters the least out of the whole book and I thought that she was quick to judge, but her chapters did help to bring everything together.
War: This book is in essence about the war, not just about a single war, but about both world wars. I absolutely adore reading books about the war, and I was really intrigued about the parts in this book that went into detail about the fighting and how the men at the front lived. It was especially unique to have a book about both these wars. Most of the time, I read historical fiction about WWII, but I love it when I get a chance to read books about WWI as I don’t think we have much insight and information into this time, not as much as the second one at least. I found this theme to be hard to read, but really rewarding because it made me discover some things that I hadn’t known beforehand, I especially enjoyed Hannah’s chapters during her time serving in the Army.
Motherhood/Family: This is the second most important part of this book, actually at the forefront of the story. It is what binds the characters together and it is the line that goes from start to finish in this book. As you know, I’m not a fan of family type stories, however, this doesn’t bother me in the least in historical fiction and I always enjoy them a lot. This family was such a complex part of the book, and I think it did a great job of showing just how hard family life and motherhood could be both during WWI and WWII, what women had to do to survive, how the children grew up, etc. I especially loved the relationships between mother and daughter as they made this book so much more than it was.
Secrets: This is also a really important part of the book, maybe not the most, but it definitely underlies all the issues that the characters come across. As soon as we meet Clara, we realise that she already has a whole host of secrets and fake family members and memories to parade about, she wants to remake herself but decides to do so dishonestly. I would say that Clara’s whole life is full of secrets and this follows her family through their own lives, as they all weave their own secrets independently of her own. I found it intriguing to read how everything came together in the end and I think this definitely shows that you can never know the whole truth about a person, even if they are your mother, brother, father, daughter, son, etc.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience. I adore books that have a chronological order that is separated between various characters, each one taking on that part of the book’s narration at a certain point in time. I thought the structure was very interesting and even though I would have loved to learn more about Clara when she went to the vicarage or Hannah after she gave birth to Caroline, I did find it just as satisfying to learn of the next part of the story from another character.
I gave this book 4 stars, I really enjoyed it and loved the characters, I wasn’t a big fan of Caroline and found her attitude rather nasty, but I did adore all the others. I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction such as myself, just be aware that there are some sensitive topics due to the backdrop of war, but also with family, secrets, motherhood, some sexism, domestic violence, fighting, and death. The writing style was so immersive, it drew me in from the start, it was beautiful and emotive and just kept me turning the pages as fast as I could, I will definitely be reading some more books by this author as her voice really shined through in this book.
Thank you so much to the publicists at Harper Collins and Fern for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this review, see you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – FERN BRITTON
Fern Britton is the highly acclaimed author of eight Sunday Times bestselling novels.
Born in London, into a theatrical family, Fern started her professional life as a stage manager. Theatre life was great fun but within three years, in 1980, she graduated to television and became a presenter on Westward Television. Here she achieved her ambition of living in Cornwall. Since then television has been her home. She spent 14 years as a journalist before presenting Ready, Steady, Cook for the BBC. This Morning for ITV came next where she won several awards and became a household name. Her interview programme Fern Britton Meets had guests including Tony Blair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dolly Parton and Cliff Richard. Fern presented The Big Allotment Challenge (BBC2), For What It’s Worth (BBC1), Culinary Genius with Gordon Ramsay (ITV)
Fern’s novels are all set in her beloved Cornwall. Her books are cherished for their warmth, wit and wisdom, and have won her legions of loyal readers. Fern was a judge for the Costa Book of the Year Award and a supporter of the Reading Agency, promoting literacy and reading.
Fern turned her talents to acting last year when she starred as Marie in Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s award-winning musical Calendar Girls.
Fern has twin sons, two daughters and lives in Cornwall in a house full of good food, wine, family, friends and gardening books. She has a motor cycle licence, an honorary doctorate for services to broadcasting and charity, and is a member of Mensa!
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Kobo