Back in January this year, I bought some even-cheaper-than-normal light novels in The Works – cheaper because two of them were Christmas books. And then I realised they were part of series and had to buy the rest of Phillipa Ashley’s two series, the “Cornish Cafe” and then “Little Cornish Isles” ones, because a) you have to read series in order (right?) and b) I discovered they were set in West Penwith, somewhere we visit at least once a year and an area of which we’re very fond. Then, of course, I also picked up the “Perfect Cornish …” books one and two, one Christmas, one not, via a NetGalley win and that need to read in order. “Christmas on he Little Cornish Isles” is its trilogy’s first book, so this was an obvious time to pick it up and read it.

NB I’ve also now collected the rest of Jane Linfoot’s “Little Wedding Shop” books, also set in Cornwall, as I discovered the one I bought was the second one. I started it and it was well written and good so I picked up the others, including ANOTHER Christmas book. Where will it all end, etc? Anyway …

Phillipa Ashley – “Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn”

(14 January 2019)

First in a new trilogy, set on a fictional version of one of the Isles of Scilly, a decision I can completely understand – you can’t set a novel in a place with such a small population and use real places and people, and she does the same with her main town in her other series – but was a bit frustrating as I tried to work out where exactly it was based (I’ve been to the Isles of Scilly once myself but my husband has been a few times, being one of the birdwatchers mentioned at the start of the book). Anyway, she captures island life and its special details really well, not glossing over the constant drip feed of the same questions or the poverty and difficulties which go along with living in such a beautiful and special place.

We meet Maisie, who is back running her parents’ pub after a traumatic time living on the mainland (baby loss trigger warning: this is mentioned early on). She’s wooed for the pub by the local posh landowner and for herself by handsome stranger Patrick, and I liked that, as in other books, we get chapters from his point of view, too. I loved how the relationships between the island people stretch back through their lives and affect their current interactions, and the range of different characters, all of whom could quite feasibly live there. We even get the Rev Bev from other series making an appearance and adding a useful bit of diversity as a woman vicar, and Maisie is a good and strong character who cares about bringing her community together and making the Isles a better and kinder place to live.

This book of course had a nice Christmas theme and we find out how the locals celebrate. I also liked how characters who I can tell are going to crop up in the other two books (their subtitles are the name of the businesses the books are centred on) featured quite a lot here, as the only minor quibble I had with the “Perfect” books was that the characters didn’t carry across so much from book to book (I will still be ordering the third one of those when it’s published, however!). I’m really looking forward to following the Isles through spring and summer in the next two books.

You can find my reviews of Phillipa Ashley’s other Cornwall books here. I enjoyed seeing her thank her blogging readers for sharing about her books in the Acknowledgements to this one.