Friday, July 1, 2016

Liz Fenwick - A Cornish Stranger

When her reclusive grandmother becomes too frail to live alone, Gabriella Blythe moves into the remote waterside cabin on Frenchman's Creek which has been her grandmother's home for decades. Once a celebrated artist, Jaunty's days are coming to a close but she is still haunted by events in her past, particularly the sinking of Lancasteria during the war.
Everything is fine until a handsome stranger arrives in a storm, seeking help. Fin has been left a family legacy: a delicate watercolour of a cabin above the creek which leads him to this beautiful stretch of Cornish water. As Fin begins to pick at the clues of the painting, he is drawn into the lives of Gabe and Jaunty, unraveling a remarkable story of identity and betrayal . . .
In this delightful novel, Liz Fenwick weaves a spell-binding tale of romance and intrigue, set against the gorgeous Cornish coast.

Comment: I got this book, again, by positive recommendations of some friends, mostly that I found in their reviews. I was curious to try the book and to find out if this could be another author I'd follow.

This is the story of Gabrielle, a young woman who was on the way to become an important lyric singer but one night everything changed when she gets attacked. Now, making music for commercials for a living, she decides to live with her grandmother because she's too frail and needs someone to help her. But Gabrielle is still too cautious, even more so when she ends up rescuing a stranger from the ocean near her grandmother's house and he is invited to live there for a while.
And what about her grandmother, will her memories help her through the old age or writing down her memories will be the last thing she manages to do?

I was curious about this story, yes, but I have to confess I found it slightly boring in narrative. If the author's voice is always like this, then I think it might not be too fluid for my taste. The story itself had some interesting elements but it wasn't as spectacular as I might have imagined.

The beginning was complicated and one things truly annoyed me. I do understand the tactic and why authors choose to present story lines divided into character's POV or years or before and after but it's annoying. Most of the times, anyway.
In this book, we had two POVs, Gabriella and her grandmother. There were two parts, the first dedicated to the grandmother and the second more focused on Gabriella. Within each part, we had both character's POV. Jaunty, the grandmother, has had an interesting life and dramatic choices to make in the past and it's all fine but I was not particularly interested in that. I wouldn't have minded knowing things in another way. Jaunty is writing down everything we are told so Gabriella can read one day, after Jaunty dies. Ok..but then why do we have to know so many details? Yes, the drama level rises up but...
I was more concerned about Gabriella. I wanted more scenes with her, interactions of her. I get the grandmother sections and why she is important but, to me, it only made everything slower in happening.

Gabriella is what made me eager to keep reading. We learn step by step how promising in music she was, why she stopped and now we root for her, because she "discovers" passion for music again and even curious about a love interest.
The stranger she rescues has more importance than we think but I was more interested in seeing if he could go pass Gabriella's fears. I think their attraction was good, made the romance feel vibrant but wasn't as amazing as I hoped for.
I liked the way Gabriella started to change, though, She started to finally process her attack and why she can get over it years after and that she can have her career back, friends and even love.

The end of the book is predictable in most things. There's a certain twist about Gabriella and Fin, the stranger, and honestly I didn't think much of it. It could have bee avoided that the intensity of the story wouldn't be affected.
Jaunty's parts and past obviously make for the bigger surprises, although we slowly had already glimpsed some, and it was interesting enough, I guess. However, I was slightly disappointed with the end, it was rushed and some situations were only there clearly for drama purposes.
It was good that some aspects were interesting, especially related to Gabriella's life and personality, but overall, I think it had too many boring moments and Jaunty's sections weren't always as captivating for me as that, which made me want to get quickly to Gabriella's parts.
In dual timed plots, I usually have a preference for the contemporary one, probably because it's the one we can still see some changes in.
Grade: 6/10

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