Fern returns to Cornwall

'Cornwall feeds something in the soul, don’t you find?’

So wrote Sunday Times bestselling author Fern Britton in one of her earlier novels set in and around the fictional Cornish coastal town of Trevay.

In her novel The Newcomer, set in Trevay’s neighbouring village Pendruggan, it’s springtime in the village and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to the parish vicar, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

‘She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms. It was to be a new beginning...’

But it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon she starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

The Newcomer is Fern’s eighth book based in Cornwall, a place she knows well from her early days working in TV in the south west. Since then, Fern has made Cornwall her home from home. Throughout the books she describes the village and the area...

The Pendruggan village green with its cluster of old and new homes around it. Above her, tiny white cloud puffs floated in the bluest of skies. The smell of gorse on the wind, bringing with it the light rumble of surf on Shellsand Beach.

The warm Cornish spring brought light winds and blue skies. The hedgerows gradually changed from primroses and bluebells to verdant grasses studded with foxgloves, ferns and buttercups. Children were playing out on the village green until bedtime and early holiday-makers arrived to enjoy the beaches and coffee shops.

She unwound the window and watched as the trees and small cottages gave way to high hedges with gateways offering tantalising vistas of the sea beyond. As the road reached its highest point the trees and farms opened to acres of green fields, with the glittering Atlantic below, crashing onto the rocks of the headland that sheltered her childhood village. A small scarlet lobster boat was bouncing through the waves and the sea gulls circled its wake. She shaded her eyes with both hands and drank in the beauty of Trevay nestled in the cleft of its surrounding cliffs.

But where is Trevay? Which town or village has been the inspiration for Fern’s novels? There’s no shortage of possible locations in Cornwall, from Mousehole in the far west to Polperro in the east. But the north coast is the Atlantic coast, so is it Port Isaac, St Agnes or Padstow? Or is it just a place in Fern’s imagination?

What do you think?

Cornwall has featured over the years in many novels, often using made up names for towns and villages. Here’s just a few where we have had to guess the location…

West Endelstow: St Juliot near Boscastle in A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy

Camelot: Tintagel... perhaps!

Troy Town: Fowey in books by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch

Plyn: Polruan near Fowey in Daphne du Maurier’s first novel The Loving Spirit

Polchester: Truro in Hugh Walpole’s 1920s novel The Cathedral

Trelooe: Looe and Polperro in a trilogy of books written in the 1950s by the Mancunian author Walter Greenwood.

Polruddan; Pentewan near Mevagissey in books by E.V. Thompson

Porthkerris: St Ives in Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers

And of course, there are so many more set in the ‘real’ Cornwall, what’s your favourite?

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