Cornwall has always been my home – even when I lived elsewhere – and I have read so many books set in places I know, some of them very close to home. I should be used to it. But today I’ve been reading a book set at the beginning of the last century, watching the narrator walk in countryside I know and see sights I know well, and it knocked me sideways ….
* * * * * * *“I rode into Penzance and explored the town thoroughly … I found it a curious mixture of a place, the new gentility of the seaside town mellowing the ancient coarseness of the fishing port. The Metropole Hotel was part of the new gentility, a modern building that faced the sea and catered to visitors anxious to breathe the sea air in refined surroundings, but the town’s high street was far older than the esplanade and stood further inland to remind the visitor that a sea view had not always been considered desirable by the inhabitants. The mixture of old and new was emphasised, however by the new market house at the top of historical market Jew Street and by the new public garden with their semi-tropical vegetation a stone’s throw from the narrow streets and cobbled alleys around the harbour. And beyond the harbour, reducing both the old and the new to insignificance, rose the fairy-tale castle of St Michael’s Mount …”
From ‘Penmarric’ by Susan Howatch
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As it is today – clockwise from top left:
The Queens Hotel (fictionalised as The Metropole)
St Michael’s Mount
The sub-tropical Morrab Gardens
The Market House at the top of Market Jew Street
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How close to home- or to places you know – has reading taken you? How did your world look from inside a book?