3.5 out of 5 stars

Cornwall for the visitor is a place of sunshine and cream teas, beautiful beaches and dramatic cliffs. For those that still live there is a very different story, poverty, low paid casual work and an uncertain future.

Melody Janie is one of those locals, she is alone now after a series of family tragedies and she is living in a caravan hidden in woodland in Bones Break, near a small cliff top in north Cornwall. She trusts no one and spends her days walking her territory watching the tourists or emmets and they pass through.

She starts to see one newcomer to the area more frequently walk across what she considers her land. She hides from him initially and just observes what he is doing. But comes the time when they cross each others paths. His dog, Archie, seems to like her and they start to interact a little, but both not trusting each other. Like her, he has secrets that he is hiding from and is surprised that she doesn’t recognise him at all, but then she rarely reads the papers and has not had a phone for the past few years and is unaware of anything going on in the news.

One person from school who wants to see her again is Esther; she is at university in Bristol but is back regularly. She finds Melody Janie is remote and disturbed by all sorts of things happening around her. Esther recognises who the guy is that she has been talking to and recommends that she never sees him again…

It is difficult to reveal much more about the book without spoiling it. Safe to say that this is a fast-paced family drama centred around the character of Melody Janie. It deals with many social issues, from the influx of wealthy second homeowners to an area and how the locals resent this as the places they once could afford suddenly become out of reach. But it is also a story about mental health, how people are affected by events and how we need that one person to be there through everything. It is a little bleak, but then Carroll has managed to envelop lots of issues and social commentary in the story that rarely gets spoken about. Not one of your happy Cornish stories, but still a solid, well thought through plot.

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