30 May 2016
Book Review: The Postcard by Fern Britton
Life in the Cornish village of Pendruggan isn’t always picture perfect. Penny Leighton has never told anyone why she’s estranged from her mother and sister. For years she’s kept her family secrets locked away in her heart, but they’ve been quietly eating away at her. When an unwelcome visitor blows in, Penny is brought face to face with the past. And a postcard, tucked away in a long-hidden case, holds the truth that could change everything.
Young Ella has come back to the place where she spent a happy childhood with her grandmother. Now she’s here to search for everything missing in her life. Taken under Penny’s broken wing for the summer, the safe haven of Pendruggan feels like the place for a fresh start. Soon, however, Ella starts to wonder if perhaps her real legacy doesn’t lie in the past at all."
I have been lucky enough to read several of Fern Britton's books before, and thoroughly enjoyed each of them! Her stories are centred around real, believable people in situations you could believe that you might find yourself in, and I soon become absorbed in the world of her characters! Her latest book, The Postcard, was no different, and once I dived in to the book, I didn't want to finish it, and I actually managed to complete it in just a few hours!
The book is set in the Cornish town of Pendruggan, and is based around the character of Penny Leighton, wife of the vicar Simon. We have actually met Penny a few times before, most notably in Fern's earlier book A Seaside Affair, and it was nice to catch up with her and the other characers of Pendruggan and Trevay once more. Penny is now a mum to her darling daughter Jenna, but is struggling more than she lets on. When her estranged sister suddenly makes contact and finds herself in Penny's life once more, Penny is struggling to cope and slides into a downward spiral, unsure of how to get herself back out. Is Penny going to be able to admit she needs help before it's too late?
I love books that catch up with characters that we have met before, and I was really pleased to see Penny and Helen again - we have previously followed Helen in Fern's book Hidden Treasures. This book is obviously set after these two, and you don't need to have read those two to really enjoy this one, although of course you'll just be a bit more informed about Penny and Helen's pasts if you have read them! This book deals with some quite serious themes, including depression, grief and jealousy, and it was the first theme that really struck me with this book.
Fern Britton writes the story of Penny and her despair so well, I just wanted to run into her beautiful home and give her a big hug and tell her everything was going to be okay. It's always different when you are on the outside looking in, seeing someone having an outwardly perfect life, but of course things can be very different behind closed doors. I'm sure a lot of mothers out there have gone through what poor Penny goes through in this book, and it was heart-breaking seeing her self-doubt and anxiety creep in, affecting her abilities in all parts of her life, and it goes to show how it can affect anyone at any time. Of course, her best friend Helen was there to help pick up the pieces, we all need good friends around us sometimes!
The story was beautifully written, and I was instantly taken into the world of Pendruggan, the small village in Cornwall, again somewhere I've never been but feel like I have as I have had the pleasure of reading so many books there! I loved Fern's descriptions of the beautiful houses, and her narrative was so easy to read, following the many stories within the book with ease. I really liked the addition of Penny's new neighbours, Kit and Adam, and their friend Ella. This added a new element to the book, and I liked how they were all tied together by the end of the book, showing how villagers in a small place come together in times of need and welcome new people into the fold with ease!
I don't believe I have ever hated a character in a book as much as I hated Suzie, but gosh that woman seemed so evil! There was part of me that wanted to skip through the book to the end to see if she would be caught out and made to own up to what she'd done, as there were times when I felt everyone but me was being sucked in by her, and I have to give credit to Fern's writing for conveying such an emotion in me about this character that I was filled with real hatred, and desperation for her true colours to come out! This was a wonderful story from start to finish - not always an easy read due to the themes, but I loved the family-centred nature of the book, showing us how families come in all shapes and sizes, and how people are affected differently by their circumstances. A brilliant book, yet another great story from Fern Britton and I'm already looking forward to her next book!