Well, there’s a tale here … I won the second book in this three-book series on NetGalley and got hold of the first book so I could read them in order, which I duly did, and I reviewed them here back in November. Past Me must have got wind of this, the third installment, being due in June, so pre-ordered it. Then forgot. So I was surprised last week to get an email from Amazon to say my pre-order was on its way. I sort of realised what had happened at that point, but was surprised, as I usually only pre-order big expensive new books I’m longing for (“The Testaments” etc.) not a perfectly nice novel I can pick up anywhere late (esp as I was doing this before lockdown removed access to the charity shops and The Works). Imagine my surprise, then, when I got ANOTHER email saying the same; picking through the history, it seems that February Past Me also decided to pre-order this book! Fortunately I managed to cancel one copy and get a refund. But then I thought I should read the thing, given that I’d obviously been keen to get it the moment it came out (actually, I think it’s more a question of knowing I’d forget it was going to come out and never getting round to reading it).

Phillipa Ashley – “A Perfect Cornish Escape”

(12 June 2020)

A pair of cousins, one living a quiet life in a small Cornish town, bereaved after a boating accident seven years ago, one escaping from a poor choice and scandal in London and the loss of her high-flying career in journalism, meet two essentially decent but flawed men who always seek consent (as they should, and as is nice to see through all of these books), one escaping from his own demons and PTSD after an accident, one really not keen on journalists after being stitched up. But will they all be able to heal and work their way through to a brighter future? I did like the theme of healing taking a long time and being a process, and people getting things after hard work, not luck or attractiveness, and it’s a kind and generally positive book as this author’s reliably are. I liked the characters from the other two stories popping up in this one so we can see what they’re doing. The first series I read, the Cornish Cafe ones, followed the same characters through all three books, while the Little Cornish Isles ones concentrated on a different person each time, with the others popping up – this one is more separate but still does have those nice links, which I really like. A good sense of community, too, and of the community having each other’s backs and pulling together.

I did feel very sorry for the author in one respect. It’s a series, and there were dates in the other two, so this one has one section in the past and then it starts off being set in … April 2020 and running through to September. But of course it was written way before lockdown and none of the events could have happened in social isolation conditions. But what a massive shame. I’d have been tempted to change it to April 2019 and not worry about people being cross over the timeline going wonky but I’m sure they had their reasons for not doing that.

I was also disappointed in a more problematic sense that the diversity that I found and really enjoyed in her previous books was completely gone here, even in a character who appears here but had previously had a story around her ethnicity. Yes, we don’t need to bang on about things all the time, but it was odd to see that remain unacknowleged and to not have the inclusive characters we had before. I wonder why that is and hope it’s not some focus group business.

Has Past You ever presented you with books you’d forgotten about?

I’m over half-way through “The Vanishing Half” at the moment and pretty well unable to put it down, and very much enjoying the quieter charms of “Rising Ground”. Is your 20BooksofSummer list still going well?