Wednesday 22 September 2021

Guest Review: The House Beneath the Cliffs by Sharon Gosling

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.
Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.
Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?

Review: This is an author who is new to me, but having heard her talking about this new novel, I thought it sounded right up my street. I was particularly attracted to the story as the setting is in an area I have been to recently. While not having visited this particular small seaside village, I did drive down to quite a few similar villages along that Moray Firth coast towards Inverness.

The story centres on chef Anna Campbell, who is just getting out of a long-term relationship with celebrity chef Geoff, who has become completely overbearing. Desperate to escape, she has bought a small house in the tiny seaside village of Crovie with the unusual name of Fishergirl’s Luck. Unfortunately, she only viewed the property online, so the size and location are a bit of a shock; the house is basically a converted storage shed. The village itself is obviously a shadow of the busy fishing village it once was, partly due to the extreme weather that sometimes blows in from the sea, and to the precarious state of the cliff that overshadows the area. Her first instinct is to turn and flee, but the friendly neighbours she meets convince her to stay a while longer. Even the grumpy old resident who seems to hate her can’t make her leave. Anna soon begins to feel at home in her little house and to turn her hand to cooking once again, even running a pop-up lunch club a few times a week. She also becomes friendly with handsome single dad Robert MacKenzie who lives in a nearby town. However, when the weather turns really nasty, it looks as though Anna’s comfortable life may be at an end.

I have really enjoyed reading this moving and dramatic story that kept me absorbed for hours at a time; I can highly recommend it to all. I admired Anna and her sense of adventure in leaving behind her old life and being ready to say yes to any opportunity that came her way. There are lots of other interesting characters in the story, with a range of backgrounds. I loved the relationship between Robert MacKenzie and his son and their involvement with a pod of bottlenose dolphins for which the area has become famous. What can I say about the village of Crovie - so tiny and with the constant threat of that cliff above it, with its frequent landslips, and yet so full of community spirit. Who could fail to be charmed? Anna’s little house sounded so cosy and an absolutely ideal place for someone looking to escape. Of course, with Anna being a top-notch chef, there is lots of delicious food being prepared in this story, with plenty of seafood on offer.

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