Tuesday, 12 March 2019
The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce #BlogTour
Every year we go to Cornwall to spend a week by the sea. We usually stay in a small village of Perranuthnoe. Walking in the opposite direction from the village you see St Michael's Mount, with its formidable castle which was home to St Aubyn's family for several centuries. We visited it a few times, the castle is quite compact inside, and wandering through the halls and rooms makes me think what stories those walls could tell.
I love Cornwall, and have a special fondness for books set in Cornwall.
The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce is set against the thrilling backdrop of the 18C Cornwall.
Don't be deceived by a demure innocent-looking young lady on the cover.
There is a love story running through the book, but there is so much more, as you get a sense of time and place.
Angelica Lilly is educated and beautiful. As her best friend's mother tells her: "Your beauty, your extreme beauty, coupled with the fact that you're a very rich woman, poses serious competition".
Angelica is invited to spend a summer in high society. She is accepted everywhere and attracts attention, but she doesn't feel like she belongs to the high society.
Her late mother was an actress, and her father is a prosperous merchant. Angelica feels like a fish out of water among the aristocrats of Cornwall.
Lord Entworth is offering her everything - position, wealth, high standing in society, as well as his love. He's been married before, it was an arranged marriage, where the relationship was strained. His late wife was polite to him in public, but rarely spoke to him in private. He is looking now for a woman who would love him back. Any young lady among his circles would be delighted to become his wife. But there is a dark side to him...
Angelica's younger brother Edgar returns home from Oxford, very ill and in the clutches of opium. He is also under the influence of an extremely unpleasant wastrel named Jacob Boswell. This arrogant impoverished aristocrat has attached himself to Edgar like a leech.
Jacob's mother - on the other hand - has set her cap at Angelica's father. Like mother, like son, they are both parasites with voracious appetites for other people's money.
Edgar and Jake arrive to the Lilly's house in Truro in a coach driven by the handsome coachman Henry Trevelyan. He is softly spoken and reads poetry. Angelica soon finds out that this was all a disguise, and Henry is on a mission to find robbers who attack the coaches.
He is educated and attractive, and there is a definite spark between the two. That is, until Henry seemingly betrays Angelica and her family.
Set against the dramatic coastline of Cornwall, this novel will thrill the fans of the Poldark series. The parallels and comparisons are inevitable, since the historic period described in the books is nearly the same.
The historical background feels authentic, with the social norms and groups described accurately. The topic of the role of women in the 18C society runs through the novel.
Angelica, for example, is expected to marry into the aristocratic family, thus fulfilling her mission. Her father doesn't want her to learn about his business.
On the opposite side, there are the Foxes who share the same office and run business together. Then there's the Carews, where Lady Clarissa appears to be the boss of the family. Her daughter Amelia, a friend and confidante of Angelica, grows an apothecary garden and knows a lot about botany and medicinal herbs. Having lost her fiancé, she is heartbroken. Untypical of that age and social norms, she is not coerced by her family to move on and marry someone else. In fact, she is resigned to live her life as a spinster, surrounded by her family.
This historical novel provides the grand sweep of the society. The social injustice is prevalent, the rift between rich and poor is wide.
While poor people are starving, and there are riots in towns, the Carews think nothing of spending a fortune on buying cherry plants from the Russian tsarina's court.
Will Angelica find a true love? And will she be able to save her brother Edgar who's implicated in a terrible plot?
Vastly engaging, The Cornish Lady is a fast-moving, enjoyable read.
Nicola Pryce came to writing after a career in nursing. She lives in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset and when she isn't writing, she's probably gardening or scrubbing the decks.
She and her husband love sailing and for the last twenty years they have sailed in and out of the romantic harbours of the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure: it is there where she sets her books.
The Cornish Lady is her fourth book. The others are Pengelly's Daughter, The Captain's Girl and The Cornish Dressmaker.
Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Historical Writers Association.
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This review is part of The Cornish Lady blog tour. You can check out all the stops of the tour, looking at this schedule.
Disclosure: Many thanks to Corvus Books and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book.