Emylia Hall’s Top Three Books Set In Cornwall

Posted on: May 3rd, 2015

To celebrate the paperback release of A Cornish Stranger on the 23rd of April and Under A Cornish Sky of the 7th of May I’ve asked several of my favourite authors to share their top three Cornish reads.

Here’s what Emylia had to say….

One of the things I love most about Cornwall is its art and artists, so when thinking about my favourite books set in that part of the world I’ve added a second filter – ‘must contain brushstrokes’.

Notes From An Exhibition – Patrick Gale
The artist Rachel Kelly is a fascinating, complex, volatile creation, and as the story unfolds we comprehend the effect she’s had on those closest to her. It’s a compulsive and heartbreaking read. Barbara Hepworth makes a star turn, and the Penwith art community is painted with aplomb.

An Equal Stillness – Francesca Kay
A fictionalised biography of painter Jennet Mallow, which moves between London, St Ives, Spain and Yorkshire. It’s beautifully poetic and the time spent in Cornwall, while not the most influential for Mallow’s art, remains a delight for the reader – deeply lyrical, infused with sun and sea and other temptations.

The Cornish House – Liz Fenwick
Trevenen, the titular Cornish house, is a place of new beginnings, but the inescapable past pervades the story. The setting is so evocative, the wonderfully dilapidated house and the surrounding countryside invite the reader in, while artist Maddie, and her step-daughter Hannah, are hugely relatable characters.

Actually, I have to add a fourth – because it’s impossible to talk about Cornwall without mentioning du Maurier – even if it does mean stepping away from the art crowd…

Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier
While Rebecca is one of my all-time favourite novels, when it comes to resoundingly Cornish settings, for me, Jamaica Inn trumps it. Landscape looms large – there are black nights on cliff tops, moorland lost in fogs and bogs, the clamour of Launceston on market day, and it’s all contrasted with Mary Yellan’s nostalgia for the greener and more pleasant spot she left behind. It’s the kind of story for tucking up under the bedclothes with, and for which the phrase ‘rip-roaring yarn’ feels invented.

51aUMFT3eJL._AA160_Emylia has her own Cornish story, The Sea Between Us, coming out in August and it’s wonderful (I just finished it yesterday). She weaves her love of art, the sea and Cornwall onto the pages…

In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved – just – by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.

Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago’s paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?


You can find Emylia on twitter @EmyliaHall


Please pop by tomorrow to find out Amanda James’s top three books set in Cornwall…