The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick: Weaving together past and present, secrets and lies - book review -

The Path to the Sea
The Path to the Sea

Take three generations of women, a haunting tragedy from 55 years ago, and an imposing house standing on a Cornish cliff top, and the scene is set for one of this summer’s most enthralling reads.

Fill up your senses and steep yourself in sea vistas, sparkling sunlight and lush landscapes as Liz Fenwick transports us to a corner of the world that this Massachusetts-born expat has made her own.

Fenwick fell in love with an Englishman and now enjoys family life in beautiful Cornwall whilst channelling her literary talents and energies into atmospheric and beautifully crafted novels which connect with both the countryside she adores, and the human condition that she writes about with such startling insight and veracity.

And The Path to the Sea is a visual and verbal triumph… an intriguing, all-enveloping and poignant mystery that explores how the events of one torrid summer fractured a family and led to decades of guilt, separation and anguish.

Diana Trewin, a 64-year-old seasoned war correspondent, is returning to Boskenna, the stunning, sunlit house standing on the Cornish cliffs which was once her much-loved home.

Her mother, 85-year-old Joan, is dying of cancer and Diana has reluctantly come back to Boskenna even though the two women have had nothing to say to each other for years.

Diana still dreams of her childhood there – the endless blue skies and wide lawns, book-filled rooms and parties, the sound of the sea at the end of the coastal path – but all that happiness ended in the August of 1962 when she was eight years old.

A shocking tragedy that summer ended those golden years and Diana has hardly ever been back. Her close relationship with her mother simply ‘evaporated,’ and it has never been rekindled over a gap of 55 years.

In 1963, Joan was the glamorous young wife of Allan Trewin, a British diplomat in Moscow as the West teetered on the brink of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Boskenna was a paradise where she and Allan could entertain and escape a world where no one was quite what they seemed – a world that would ultimately cost their marriage and end in tragedy.

Also heading home in the August traffic to Boskenna is Diana’s 28-year-old daughter Lottie, broken-hearted because her beloved Gran is dying but welcoming an escape from a life gone horribly wrong in London.

As the three women gather together for a final time, the secrets hidden within the beautiful old house will be revealed in a summer that will leave them changed for ever.

Fenwick is now one of the go-to queens of Cornish fiction, and this dazzling new tale harnesses all the emotional wisdom, rich descriptive powers and dramatic storytelling that have made her such a popular and well-loved author.

The Path to the Sea is written straight from the heart… full of warmth, sensitivity and thought-provoking issues, and given extra power by a dark, compelling mystery and some fascinating social and political overtones.

Weaving together past and present, secrets and lies, domestic life and political menace, this is summer reading at its best.

(HQ, hardback, £12.99)