Review by Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 19th August 2021
ISBN: 978-1471198670 PB
If I am drawn to any settings in particular it’s always remote ones so The House Beneath the Cliffs appealed to me as soon as I heard about it. The setting is the small fishing village of Crovie (pronounced Crivvie) on the Moray Firth in Scotland. From the outset, when Anna Campbell arrives there at her new home called The Fishergirl’s Luck, I was completely captivated by the place, a small string of houses built right at the edge of the sea and beneath a cliff.
Anna is escaping from her past. Her long term relationship with well-known chef, Geoff Rowcliffe, has broken down and it’s clear that he totally demoralised her during the 20 years they were together, despite her being just as good a chef as him. She meets new people in Crovie and starts to become part of the tiny, and mostly welcoming, community. Of course, there’s always some who don’t take to newcomers but by and large Anna starts to feel very happy in her new home and sets up a successful pop-up lunch club outside her little shed.
There’s most definitely a sense of living the dream with this book and it has a very romantic feel to it in that respect but the author portrays the fact that it’s a harsh life at times very effectively. Living that close to the sea is beautiful but also completely destructive in a storm and the prospect of that is never far from the minds of the residents. I really came to care about each of them and was moved to tears at their plight at times.
The House Beneath the Cliffs is an absolutely gorgeous read. It’s light and easy to enjoy, yet beautifully emotive, with themes of grief and manipulation entwined with the joy of seeing Anna make a new life for herself in a place that gets under her skin (mine too!). I thought it was really special story with a setting that was brought to life for me through the author’s words, and with characters I loved and whose community I wanted to join. This tale of new beginnings made my heart sing. I absolutely loved this book which will easily be one of my favourites of the year.