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Daughters of Cornwall

Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton

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By Fern Britton

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8 reviews

The No.1 Sunday Times bestselling novel!


15 May 2021


I know I'm not the target audience for this book (I'm still in the under 30-crowd, and I love fantasy/sci-fi rather than historical fiction) but still, I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I enjoy stories about the world wars, and a multigenerational novel about strong women sounded intriguing.

The actual novel, however, wasn't a story at all. The book followed a few characters as they did mildly interesting things, but there was no overarching plot holding it all together (except for one under-explained strand that came together far too quickly at the very end). For the rest, the characters' lives were interesting enough, but they just didn't amount to anything.

My other frustration with the book is that one of the central themes is how women are stronger than men, and they're the ones who consistently hold everything together while the men run off and leave them. While I enjoy a good feminist historical novel, this one came across as slightly more male-bashing than was necessary. The women in the novel seem bent on sleeping with whoever comes near, even if they're warned over and over that they're bad news. I hardly think it's fair to blame a guy for abandoning you when he never even came close to promising he'd stay...

Anyways, I forced myself to finish this one bc I don't like reviewing books when I've not reached the end, but it was very much a waste of time. I'd love to read a good multi-generational historical novel about strong women during the world wars... but this was definitely not it.

Goodreads review:

15 May 2021


This story, as the title suggests is set largely in Cornwall. It is a saga covering three generations of the Bolitho family women and is set in three quite distinct timeframes – First World War, Second World War and the present day. Clara is the earliest of the women to make an appearance. She fell in love with Bertie Bolitho, a soldier from a Cornish family but the war tore them apart. We meet her as she is boarding a train to go and meet Bertie’s family for the first time. Her daughter Hannah represents the next generation and we are introduced to her as a young child when she and her brother are sent back to Cornwall from their home in war-torn Penang to be brought up by their grandparents. Hannah’s daughter, Caroline brings the story up to date as she receives a mysterious trunk containing the artefacts of her grandfather who had died in Malaysia in the 1970s. As she starts to go through the contents of the trunk, family secrets are revealed that have been hidden for decades and she begins to realise that she comes from a family of truly remarkable women. Welcome to their story.

On the plus side this book was a very easy read. There were also some curveballs thrown in, one in particular providing a very dramatic twist to the tale which put everything in a different light and required a complete reevaluation of all that had gone before. Also the characters are well developed.

However, it was not all good! I had really been looking forward to this book, having thoroughly enjoyed a previous novel by this author. Sadly, this one did not live up to expectations. It was OK, but I was neither enchanted nor gripped by it. In fact there were times when it was so slow-moving that it was dull and I was a bit bored. I often found the generational relationships confusing and the jumping timelines took a bit of getting used to. Although the plot twists did redeem it to some extent, overall I thought it was rather too pedestrian.

Although I personally might not recommend this particular Fern Britton novel, many other reviews give it high praise so I think it’s “make your own mind up” time.

14 May 2021


I thought this was a middle of the road sort of book. The three generations of characters were well developed but it just wasn't terribly gripping. In fact it was a bit slow at times. I have noticed that the online reviews single this book out as being atypical of most of Fern Britton's work so I will definitely try one of her others.

13 May 2021

St Regulus AJ

I had high hopes for this book but it failed to meet up with my expectations. The story was a gentle read based on the author’s own family history. I seemed to struggle to reach the conclusion of the novel and felt unmoved by the rather sluggish text. Not for me but others may enjoy.

05 May 2021

This is the first book that I have read by this author and it did not disappoint. I have always enjoyed reading this type of book, the story spans several generations of women and includes WW1 and WW2. The characters are well written and extremely likeable.

05 May 2021


I've not read Fern Brittton before but was aware of her as a television personality. I was curious and did not have very high expectations as usually its the celebrity's name that sells the book not the capability of the writing. I have since seen an interview with her in which she said this was the story of her family. That makes it much more intriguing.
The book begins with the story of Clara during the Great War. As often happens during war times she meets and quickly falls in love with a young soldier. Their love grows and shows itself to be a true, deep and lasting love. As also often happens she becomes pregnant and before they can marry he is killed. She has the baby and goes off to meet his family leaving the child for a friend to look after. Her intent is to tell them about the baby but it never seems to happen and she stays with them and never returns for her son. Thus begins decades of secrets both overt and covert.
Each following generation has unplanned pregnancies and layers of untold truths. Each generation is the story of a strong woman and the love and support of family facing the world in closed ranks never learning from but accepting the mistakes.
I enjoyed the book well enough but felt that it was a bit simplistic and contrived. However knowing it was based on Britton's family history eased that feeling somewhat.

03 May 2021

St Regulus SM

I really enjoyed a previous book by this author, so looked forward to reading this one. It didn't disappoint. The expressive writing brought the characters to life, and the story leapt off the page. A lovely read.

28 Apr 2021


This is the first Fern Britton novel that I’ve read and I did enjoy it. A family saga set during the World Wars with the main character fiercely protecting her loved ones by determination, hard work and telling mistruths which caused her to be looking over her shoulder at times.

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