The best books about Cornwall

6 authors have picked their favorite books about Cornwall and why they recommend each book.

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Ross Poldark

By Winston Graham,

Book cover of Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787

Probably my first serious crush (along with Mr. Darcy, of course). I fell in love with Ross Poldark and his wife Demelza and spent all my pocket money buying the series. It’s the 1780’s and times are hard in Cornwall: ruined harvests have brought corn riots and the wealthy landowners bemoan the lowering price of tin and copper. Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall to find his beloved Elizabeth engaged to his cousin. Winston Graham is a very exact historian. I love this historical period. It’s a great series and a must-read if you love eighteenth-century Cornwall. 


Who am I?

I was in my thirties when I finally visited Cornwall, though I’d long lost my heart to Cornwall through reading. A city girl, I ached to climb the cliff paths and breathe the salt-laden air. My head was full of folklore and history, rugged cliffs, secret coves, and desolate moors. For the last twenty-five years, we’ve been lucky enough to sail our boat along the south coast, anchoring in the timeless harbours and rowing up the creeks. My stories come while we watch the birds scuttle across the riverbanks. A product of my early reading, I’m a romantic dreamer and invite you to join me in my fictional world. 


I wrote...

The Cornish Dressmaker

By Nicola Pryce,

Book cover of The Cornish Dressmaker

What is my book about?

Cornwall, 1796. Elowyn Liddicot and her family believe they have secured the perfect future for her in the arms of Nathan Cardew. But one evening, Elowyn helps to rescue a dying man from the sea, and everything changes. William Cotterell, wild and self-assured, refuses to leave her thoughts or her side.

With Elowyn’s dressmaking business suddenly under threat, and her family’s pressure to marry Nathan increasing, her heart is decidedly at odds with her head. When she uncovers a sinister conspiracy that affects her whole world, Elowyn doesn’t know who to trust. As the truth unfolds, the devasting consequences become clear: in the face of all opposition, Elowyn must find the courage to save the man she loves.

Mistress of Mellyn

By Victoria Holt,

Book cover of Mistress of Mellyn

A slight genre shift from the typical romantic suspense novel is the Gothic romance, and Victoria Holt (the pen name for Eleanor Hibbert) was one of the best. Like many of the stories published in this genre, there is a young woman, Martha Leigh, hired on as a governess to a troubled widow whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. Settings—as in all gothic novels—play a strong role in this story with its foreboding mansion and the untamed cliffs of Cornwall.


Who am I?

As an avid reader growing up, this list of books was influential in not only fostering my love of story, but also for inspiring me to become a writer. These books showed me what makes a page-turning story; from creating a rich setting to developing authentic characters with tension-filled dialogue, to heart-pounding twists and turns. In the end, the readers are taken on a suspenseful journey that will keep them up all night. 


I wrote...

The Catch

By Lisa Harris,

Book cover of The Catch

What is my book about?

After a harrowing attempt on a judge's life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge's wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is not who they think she is.

Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the men who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.

The King's General

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of The King's General

Set in Cornwall, before and during the Civil War, this is a terrific tale based upon the lives of real people—most notably, perhaps, Sir Richard Grenville the King’s General in the West. It’s the story of the Rashleigh Family and Menabilly—where Daphne du Maurier herself lived.

Well written as one would expect of du Maurier—it’s a beautiful story, beautifully told; absorbing, exciting and hard to put down.


Who am I?

I am the author of sixteen novels—six of them set in the mid-seventeenth century. The English Civil Wars and their aftermath is a period very close to my heartcombining as it does fascinating personalities, incredibly complicated politics, and all the drama and bloodshed of civil conflict. My greatest pleasure has been finding and featuring real men whose names are now largely forgotten.


I wrote...

The Black Madonna

By Stella Riley,

Book cover of The Black Madonna

What is my book about?

The Black Madonna is the first in my five book series set against the English Civil Wars. It takes place between 1639 and 1645 and is told largely through the eyes of the Maxwell family; Richard, Member of Parliament, his son, Eden, a soldier in the Parliamentary army, and his daughter, Kate, from their home in Oxfordshire. But it is also told from the perspective of Luciano del Santi, an Italian goldsmith in love with Richard’s daughter whilst pursuing a revenge quest through a war-torn land.

The Black Madonna is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree.

Escape Beyond the Tide

By N Dune,

Book cover of Escape Beyond the Tide

This book is set in Cornwall, Nat's favourite county. She builds up such a strong world that's realistic. The characters deal with life, angst, fright, flight, and situations that are just horrible and real. This is the first of a three-part series and I devoured it all. Now, I want to visit that town (wish it were real) and just sit on that coastal path.

Who am I?

I love second-chance romances and I am not in my twenties anymore; so I wrote what I wanted to read. Now, I've found other authors who write 35+, characters who have lived, been hurt, and moved on in life. I do read New Adult or younger than 35 characters and often, really smutty, erotic books as I need to get out of my head sometimes. I love Nora Roberts, Claudia Burgoa, Catharina Maura, Jolie Vines and I'll one-click quite a few indies.


I wrote...

Dìonadair

By Louise Murchie, Auras Dark Designs (illustrator),

Book cover of Dìonadair

What is my book about?

Dìonadair is the first of a romantic suspense, second chance duology telling the tale of two military-based friends that find love later in life. Having survived square bashing, the two women meet at Officers' training. Becoming firm friends, the two new military police officers form a friendship for life—Blythe Grievson and Annie Holmes are as different as they are similar.

The need to be loved in more than one way at the same time is something Blythe thinks she'll never find. Rekindling a one-night stand brings her within reach of two very different brothers. When their company comes under regular attack, Blythe slowly starts putting the disjointed pieces together. Can she save her lovers and their company?

The Cornish Captive

By Nicola Pryce,

Book cover of The Cornish Captive

The Cornish Captive makes a powerful portrayal of abduction and imprisonment, as well as describing the forces of mental stress under the elemental pressures of Cornish life of that time. Cornish society then was unbelievably brutal. I identify so strongly with the sufferings of any sensitive soul under those conditions.


Who am I?

The collection Little Musings, available on Amazon, covers several decades of Joy's work as poet and painter. It touches on many aspects of her life, including the loss of her mother, in Do Not Mourn Her and Loss - Double Rainbow. Her childhood was spent in Plymouth, and in A Plymouth Girl Reflects, she recalls the aftermath of the air raids. Being in close proximity to Cornwall, that area also a major theme here, especially in Newquay, Cornwall, and On Air, By Melancholy. Four of the poems, "Absent Friends," "Isle of Thanet," "At Jim's Cafe," and "Captain Ahab of Thanet" are focused on the Thanet area of East Kent, where Joy now lives.


I wrote...

The Lamorna Reach: A Cornish Saga

By Joy V. Sheridan,

Book cover of The Lamorna Reach: A Cornish Saga

What is my book about?

The Lamorna Reach presents a Zola-esque tableau of raw, elemental life in early 19th Century Cornwall. Issy, the heroine, is incredibly beautiful and talented, but these qualities do not secure her a happy, comfortable life. She is born a foundling, under the most brutal circumstances, and is fostered. Issy undergoes rape and abuse, and is pressurised into an oppressive marriage. There is a saga of mutual obsession between her and the fascinating dark and menacing Tobias Carmichael, who seduces but does not control her. There are brief glimpses of euphoria and romance. Issy is a fiercely independent spirit; true to form, she disguises herself as a man and goes on a maritime expedition. Eventually, jealousy and prejudice conspire to take her life; but her spirit lives on.

The Lip

By Charlie Carroll,

Book cover of The Lip: a novel of the Cornwall tourists seldom see

At this time there was extensive maritime traffic between Cornwall and the West Indies. The Lip also has an affinity with my own experience, which included going on a Transatlantic Voyage, described in my own book, and a collection of poems I wrote on board.


Who am I?

The collection Little Musings, available on Amazon, covers several decades of Joy's work as poet and painter. It touches on many aspects of her life, including the loss of her mother, in Do Not Mourn Her and Loss - Double Rainbow. Her childhood was spent in Plymouth, and in A Plymouth Girl Reflects, she recalls the aftermath of the air raids. Being in close proximity to Cornwall, that area also a major theme here, especially in Newquay, Cornwall, and On Air, By Melancholy. Four of the poems, "Absent Friends," "Isle of Thanet," "At Jim's Cafe," and "Captain Ahab of Thanet" are focused on the Thanet area of East Kent, where Joy now lives.


I wrote...

The Lamorna Reach: A Cornish Saga

By Joy V. Sheridan,

Book cover of The Lamorna Reach: A Cornish Saga

What is my book about?

The Lamorna Reach presents a Zola-esque tableau of raw, elemental life in early 19th Century Cornwall. Issy, the heroine, is incredibly beautiful and talented, but these qualities do not secure her a happy, comfortable life. She is born a foundling, under the most brutal circumstances, and is fostered. Issy undergoes rape and abuse, and is pressurised into an oppressive marriage. There is a saga of mutual obsession between her and the fascinating dark and menacing Tobias Carmichael, who seduces but does not control her. There are brief glimpses of euphoria and romance. Issy is a fiercely independent spirit; true to form, she disguises herself as a man and goes on a maritime expedition. Eventually, jealousy and prejudice conspire to take her life; but her spirit lives on.

Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Rebecca

Although this was made into a fabulous black and white film starring Lawrence Olivier, it still didn’t do justice to the sub-tropical magic of Cornwall or the tortured new Mrs. De Winter of Mandalay. It’s another psychologically adept narrative, with the gradual awakening of the main characters to horrific truths as fragile veneers begin to crumble under unspoken pressure. In a study of jealousy, misunderstandings, and naivety, a very real horror is gradually exposed. I love the way the human flaws are exposed, almost without their knowledge, as events escalate beyond their control, and the way Du Maurier breathes life into such a wild and exotic part of England—so remote from the rest of the country. Once again, we also have a snapshot of history and the dependence of minions on any benevolence, or otherwise, the upper classes may bestow. But most of all, it is Mrs. Danvers, the mad,…


Who am I?

I’m an English author and an ex-nurse (psychiatry). Many years ago, when I was writing for magazines and floundering for direction, I met a woman who’d been hurt by ritual satanic abuse. She disturbed me badly, and I began to research the subject, becoming passionate about showing how evil affects people, and how fear and mind games are woven into the fabric of life, carrying on through families. I’ve also loved discovering beautiful prose and how to express the complexities of the human condition. I was reading my mum’s cast-off Victoria Holt novels at age seven, so perhaps I should add my other passion—simply books.      


I wrote...

Father of Lies

By S.E. England,

Book cover of Father of Lies

What is my book about?

Ruby is the most violently disturbed patient ever admitted to Drummersgate Asylum, high on the bleak moors of northern England. With no improvement after two years, Dr. Jack McGowan finally decides to take a risk and hypnotises her. With terrifying consequences. A horrific dark force is now unleashed on the entire medical team, as each in turn attempts to unlock Ruby's shocking and sinister past. Who is this girl? And how did she manage to survive such unimaginable evil? Set in a desolate ex-mining village, where secrets are tightly kept and intruders hounded out, their questions soon lead to a haunted mill, the heart of darkness...and The Father of Lies...

The House on the Strand

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of The House on the Strand

As a teenager, I glutted on the novels of Daphne du Maurier, and revelled in their Gothic thrills and the hints of darker compulsions and ambiguity which I did not fully comprehend. On re-reading a few not so long ago, I discovered that Rebecca was toppled from my personal number one spot by The House on the Strand. A time-travel story written long before it was voguish, it manages to achieve the delicate balance between the traditional, (albeit far-fetched) romantic love story and the more troubling question about perception and identity. This is not a peaceful novel as it is suffused with longings and a restlessness – there is also a vein of anger and disgust hovering below the surface - but it is both gripping and resonant and, for the purposes here, cathartic.


Who am I?

Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full-time. Her novels include the award-winning Consider the Lily, The Museum of Broken Promises, and the international bestseller, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, which was made into a CBS Primetime Drama. Elizabeth’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She has reviewed for The Times, the Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail, and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. She has been a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for the 2014 Costa Novel Award.


I wrote...

Two Women in Rome

By Elizabeth Buchan,

Book cover of Two Women in Rome

What is my book about?

A city full of secrets…Lottie Archer arrives in Rome newly married and ready for change. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence. Nina seems to have led a rewarding life restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978? Researching Nina’s life, Lottie unravels a love story beset by the violence and political turmoil of post-war Italy – only to find that its betrayals and sacrifices subtly shape her own future.

"This gorgeously written novel has as many twists and shadows as the baroque city in which it is set." Daily Mail

Jamaica Inn

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn is another grand literary role model, though it gave me a sense of something missing. It was too glamorous, too romanticised. The harsh underside of life needed more prominence. However, it narrative pace, sustained sense of drama and suspense cannot be faulted, can never fail as a creative catalyst.  


Who am I?

The collection Little Musings, available on Amazon, covers several decades of Joy's work as poet and painter. It touches on many aspects of her life, including the loss of her mother, in Do Not Mourn Her and Loss - Double Rainbow. Her childhood was spent in Plymouth, and in A Plymouth Girl Reflects, she recalls the aftermath of the air raids. Being in close proximity to Cornwall, that area also a major theme here, especially in Newquay, Cornwall, and On Air, By Melancholy. Four of the poems, "Absent Friends," "Isle of Thanet," "At Jim's Cafe," and "Captain Ahab of Thanet" are focused on the Thanet area of East Kent, where Joy now lives.


I wrote...

The Lamorna Reach: A Cornish Saga

By Joy V. Sheridan,

Book cover of The Lamorna Reach: A Cornish Saga

What is my book about?

The Lamorna Reach presents a Zola-esque tableau of raw, elemental life in early 19th Century Cornwall. Issy, the heroine, is incredibly beautiful and talented, but these qualities do not secure her a happy, comfortable life. She is born a foundling, under the most brutal circumstances, and is fostered. Issy undergoes rape and abuse, and is pressurised into an oppressive marriage. There is a saga of mutual obsession between her and the fascinating dark and menacing Tobias Carmichael, who seduces but does not control her. There are brief glimpses of euphoria and romance. Issy is a fiercely independent spirit; true to form, she disguises herself as a man and goes on a maritime expedition. Eventually, jealousy and prejudice conspire to take her life; but her spirit lives on.

Frenchman's Creek

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Frenchman's Creek

No writer evokes atmosphere better than Daphne Du Maurier. Whilst some of her other works are better known and possess more gravitas, Frenchman’s Creek, set largely around the Helford River, captures the essence of this beautiful corner of Britain perfectly. Add to that Du Maurier’s ability to transport us back to Restoration England without it feeling like a history lesson, so we can identify with the characters despite them living hundreds of years ago, and you get a great read. There is a small tinge of the supernatural in Frenchman’s Creek, and an interesting love story, but it is the atmospheric prose and fast-paced plot that makes it stand out (both provided some inspiration for the sequel to my book which is set in the same location).


Who am I?

I am fascinated by the supernatural and love to link it with a particular setting. The books listed all inspired my writing from their pace, elegant prose, and especially, descriptive settings and atmosphere evoked from those settings (something I strive to do as an author, using places I know really well). I was lucky enough to spend my early years in southwest Wirral, with its red sandstone hills, heathland, and views across the Dee estuary to Wales. This was a perfect setting for The Face Stone, with the atmosphere of the local woodlands, especially at dusk, making it easy to imagine that ancient spirits still guarded rock and tree.


I wrote...

The Face Stone

By Lewis Hinton,

Book cover of The Face Stone

What is my book about?

Do ancient rocks and woodlands really harbour a secret that could bring about worldwide catastrophe? And can saving the health, life, and even mortal soul of one missing boy avert that catastrophe?

It is 1969. Special investigator Jack Sangster is sent to an elite school, where the son of a wealthy local family has disappeared. Follow as he navigates clues and red herrings, learning at every turn that if his eyes and ears are to be believed, the stakes linked to this case are rising at an alarming rate. Sangster tries to do the right thing even as his uncertainty rises; all the while a seemingly well-ordered and rational world is slowly revealed to perhaps be older, darker, and more chaotic than he ever imagined…

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