A Review of "Penhaligon's Pride" by Terri Nixon
A Review of "Penhaligon's Pride" by Terri Nixon
When I hear that a book is set in Cornwall, I immediately want to read it and if it is a historical novel, that is even more of a pull. I am fascinated with the area and it's stormy history so was really happy to review this book.
In retrospect I wish that I had read the previous book in the saga, Penhaligon's Attic. I was a little confused with the number of characters at first and curious about what had happened before in their lives. However, I did manage to get into it, and when my mind stopped asking questions, I could just get on with the story.
While trying to keep secrets of their own, Anna reveals a secret about the real father of someone's baby and that leads to a blackmail situation that threatens to overwhelm. The wealthy don't necessarily have it all and the business of mining on which the town's fortunes depend is accurately described as the risky business it is. The intertwining of the locals' lives from the top...the Batten family who own the mines, the fishermen who's lives are constantly on the line (pun not intended), down to the chambermaids who have an insight into the residents' businesses and love lives, is fascinating and draws the reader in to the period of time around 1910 which were no less shocking than modern day issues. It defies the notion that life was less complicated back then!
Terri Nixon's ability to include the Cornish colloquialisms into this story only helped to bring out the voice of the personalities in the tale.
With all the twists and turns to this drama, I found it to be a fascinating and absorbing read and will be starting the previous tale soon so that I can fill in the gaps and answer my questions about what had happened earlier in these character's lives!
Thank you for the opportunity to review this story! I loved it!
Series: The Penhaligon Saga
Genre: Historical Saga
Release Date: 07 Dec 2017
1910. Anna Garvey and her daughter are still running the Tin Streamer's Arms in Caernoweth, Cornwall, and it finally seems like she has left her tumultuous history behind in Ireland. Meanwhile Freya Penhaligon has blossomed and is now the object of increasing affection of Hugh, the elder son of the wealthy Batten family.
After the dramatic events of the previous months, it feels like everything is finally getting back to normal. But when Anna inadvertently reveals something she shouldn't, she finds herself at the centre of a blackmail plot and it seems like the past she longed to escape is coming back to haunt her. To make matters worse, the tiny fishing hamlet is battered by a terrible storm and shifting relationships find themselves under more scrutiny than ever before.
With the Penhaligon family at breaking point it will take enormous strength and courage to bring them back together - but is it already too late?
Extract from Penhaligon’s Pride.
(Matthew Penhaligon is working in the tin mine, and his old adversary David Donithorn, his shift captain, has been uncharacteristically distant all morning. The men are on their lunch break.)
Alan had broken off from talking to cough; a deep, hacking sound, appalling enough in an old man, never mind in a nineteen-year-old. Matthew swallowed hard, wondering if he was imagining the tickle in his own throat, and determined not to cough himself… it sounded as if Alan would never stop. He’d surely returned to work too soon, but during his time working with Tommy, Matthew had learned the Trevellicks had no living parents, just aging grandparents Esther and Joe. There had been little choice in the matter, Alan’s wage was needed.
At thirty-eight, Matthew was probably one of the oldest men working the underground levels, particularly down this far; most had succumbed to injury or illness long before they reached such an advanced age, but then most of the others had been doing it all their lives. He wondered, with a returning bleakness, how long it would be before he too sounded as if he were tearing himself apart inside. The tickle in his throat grew, and he cleared it, tasting rock dust. A swig of water helped, but as he pictured the dust swirling down his throat he wished he’d spat instead.
Donithorn came back, and picked up the coil of fuse and the tamping bar. ‘Time.’ He started back down the tunnel, but Alan spoke up.
‘Powder, Cap’n? Or be we not botherin’ with that today?’ The sarcasm made Tommy visibly flinch, and Donithorn stopped. Matthew couldn’t see his face properly, but he gave a little shake of his head, as if coming back from some other place his mind had been inhabiting. ‘Yes. And, um... bring the bar.’
‘You’ve got that,’ Alan pointed out.
Donithorn looked down at his hand. ‘Right. Swab stick then.’ Irritation crept in. ‘Just make haste.’ Then he was gone into the dark again, and Matthew and the others put their water bottles and lunch tins back in their bags.
‘Well he’s changed,’ Alan observed. ‘Time was you couldn’t speak to ’un like that without getting a right ear-bashin’ back.’ He nudged his brother. ‘Why din’t you tell me he’d turned into a purring kitten? I’d have come back sooner.’
‘He’s only been like it today,’ Tommy said. ‘And you wouldn’t anyway, you’ve been too sick.’
‘I was joking,’ Alan pointed out patiently. ‘Come on, boy, grab what’s needed, and let’s get this bloody stuff out.’ As they started down the tunnel he caught at Matthew’s shirt. ‘You take this. Nature’s callin’ an’ she’ve got a bleddy loud voice.’
He pushed the swab stick into Matthew’s hand, and went back out to one of the worked-out tunnels to relieve himself, while Matthew and Tommy rejoined their captain.
When they reached him he had already cut the three fuses, and was neatly re-coiling what was left. He looked up, and dropped the depleted coil of fuse on the floor, then nodded at the cart. ‘Tommy, finish getting that loaded, and get it out.’
‘On you go, Pen’aligon, since you’ve got the stick.’
Matthew cleaned the loose grit and dust out of the three holes, and Alan arrived and began pouring the gunpowder into the scraper. When he and Donithorn started to pack and tamp the shot-holes, Matthew turned to help Tommy push the almost-full cart back out to the main shaft.
‘Get in,’ he said, when he was sure they were out of Donithorn’s hearing.
Tommy looked at him, puzzled. ‘What?’
‘Get in!’ Matthew knocked the side of the cart, and grinned.
Tommy gave a snort of surprised laughter, and climbed into the cart, where he huddled down on the lumps of ore, making himself as small as possible. Matthew pushed, enjoying the sound of Tommy’s chuckling as they went, and only just remembering in time to duck his own head to avoid an ear-ringing collision with the low, rocky roof. The boy worked so hard it was easy to forget he was still a child, and it was good to be able to give him a rest, even a brief one, though the ground was almost impossible to navigate without stopping every minute or so to kick rubble out of the way.
Together Matthew and the cart rattled and slid around the last bend, where the tunnel opened up and the ore could be unloaded onto a kibble for its journey to the surface. Tommy climbed out, and Matthew manoeuvred the cart into position. He glanced around as the boy started back up the tunnel.
‘Where are you going now? Alan’s here, there’s no need for either of us to go back.’
‘My coat,’ Tommy said. ‘I tied it around one of the props. It’s the only one I got,’ he added, almost apologetically. He needn’t have; Matthew was only too well aware of the consequences of losing clothing, when you earned so little money.
‘I’ll fetch it. Stay put.’
Donithorn was removing the candle from his helmet as Matthew returned to the end of the tunnel. ‘What’re you back for?’
‘Tommy’s coat.’ Matthew stepped past him and saw the coat, tied by the arms around one of the roughly sawn props.
‘Get it then, and be quick.’ Donithorn touched the candle to the end of the first fuse. ‘Fire in the hole!’ Alan quickly lit the other two, and flashed a grin at Matthew, who swore and ripped the coat sleeves free. Turning to follow, Matthew’s foot slid on loose rubble, and, as he reached out to steady himself on the wall he glanced at the nearest burning fuse and blinked. Something was… then he froze. Almost burned through…
‘Run!’ It came out weak and dismayed, so he snatched a short breath and bellowed, ‘RUN!’
Donithorn half-turned to question the sudden panic, but there was no time to explain. Matthew’s heart hammered against his ribs, the sweat of terror mingled with that of the natural heat, and made his free hand slip and slide on the rock wall. The hand holding Tommy’s coat gave him better purchase, and he leaned hard to his left, pushing against the wall to drive himself forward.
Donithorn, still blankly unmoving, looked past Matthew and, coming to life, gave a low cry of horror. Alan had heeded Matthew’s urgency and disappeared around the first bend, but Donithorn seemed locked in place and his face, in the thin light of the candle, was whiter than ever. ‘How…’
‘Go!’ Matthew shoved at him. He ducked low beneath the uneven roof, pushing Donithorn ahead of him. Even as he slipped and slid, and the skin was torn from his hands by sharp rock, he tried to calculate how long they had left. In his mind’s eye was only the sparking burn of the safety fuse, working its lazy, but unstoppable way towards the densely-packed gunpowder.
Waterstones Online: www.waterstones.com/book/penhaligons-pride/terri-nixon/9780349418780