Title: Penhaligon’s Attic
Author: Terri Nixon
1910. Anna Garvey arrives in Caernoweth, Cornwall with her daughter and a secret. Having come from Ireland to take up an inheritance of the local pub, she and her eighteen year-old daughter Mairead are initially viewed with suspicion by the close-knit community.
Anna soon becomes acquainted with Freya Penhaligon, a vulnerable girl struggling to keep her family business afloat in the wake of her grandmother’s death, and starts to gain the trust of the locals. As their friendship deepens, and Freya is brought out of her shell by the clever and lively Mairead, even Freya’s protective father Matthew begins to thaw.
But when a part of Anna’s past she’d long tried to escape turns up in the town, she is forced to confront the life she left behind – for her sake and her daughter’s too…
Penhaligon’s Attic is a well-crafted historical read which focuses on the inhabitants of a small village called Caernoweth, in Cornwall, during the early 20th century. It focuses on family and friendships, many of which are troubled or complicated, and explores how the past can affect so much of a person’s future relationships.
There’s romance and friendships developing within the pages of Penhaligon’s Attic which managed to avoid straying into the overly cheesy category, and I liked the characters; they’re convincing and detailed. Terri Nixon’s descriptions of Cornwall really evoked a strong sense of time and place; I felt like I could have been there myself, living the hard life many of the characters experiences during that era.
The story itself is fairly slow and takes its time, moving along at a leisurely pace, but as long as you don’t mind a break from fast paced thrillers or crime novels (as I do!) you’re likely to enjoy this slower, character-driven offering.
I enjoy historical fiction when it flows well and is full of interesting characters, and this certainly lives up to that requirement.