Becky Young has just lost her mother. While sorting through her mother’s mail, she finds a letter from her elderly cousin, Olivia Kitto, asking for help. Becky heads to Cornwall, England where her ill-tempered relative has been hospitalized. Vowing to help, Becky moves into Chynalls, Cornish for "the house on the cliff," which is sorely in need of updating so that Olivia can be brought home to a safe environment. While sorting through the run-down house, with its secret tunnel heading out to the cliff, Becky starts to uncover mysteries and family secrets that started back during WWII.
The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson effectively uses a dual timeline to tell this engaging story. In addition to present day, the book goes back to 1943 as WWII is raging. Olivia is having to grow up fast. Her father is at war, her mother soon leaves to help the cause leaving her alone to care for a young girl from town who has also been left alone. Cornwall is in constant threat of attack. When prisoners of war are brought to work on a nearby farm, a new threat arises.
As Becky learns more about Olivia, she learns more about her own strength and resiliency. She is a cancer survivor who has been fearing a relapse. Her ten year relationship with a self-absorbed artist has stagnated. Cornwall appears to offer what Becky needs to get her life together.
The excellent description of the Cornwall house and its surroundings sets the stage for a very enjoyable book. The house is a character unto itself as it holds many of the secrets waiting to be discovered. And for a bit of humor, we are entertained by Olivia’s parrot Gabriel who she rescued in 1943 and survives to the present day, making inappropriately obscene comments throughout the decades.
Many thanks to Edelweiss, Simon & Schuster and the author for an advance copy of The Sea Gate, a captivating book I’m happy to recommend.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: book available in the U.S. on January 5, 2021; digital copy now available online.
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