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Best books to read that will inspire a holiday to Cornwall

With its stunning landscapes and laid-back lifestyle, Cornwall has inspired countless writers over the years to set their novels in the county. Authors from Cornwall and across the rest of the UK, have written best-selling novels using the county as their backdrops.

The Falmouth Bookseller told us why the county is a popular setting for many writers: “I think Cornwall has always been, and always will be, a popular setting for writers because as a county it has everything, from King Arthur to tin mining the history spans every corner of time and place. As a landscape it is so diverse, we have rolling hills and white sandy beaches, but we also have the dramatic cliffs of the north coast and the brooding moors. I think there is a sense that Cornwall is a wild and unknown space which lends itself to being the perfect canvas to create whatever story a writer wishes.”

If you’re dreaming of booking caravan holidays in Cornwall, but are looking for more inspiration about why you should be planning a visit then you need to read on. Here we’ve listed some of the best books you can read that are linked to Cornwall.

Cornish Folk Tales of Place

Author: Anna Chorlton

From huge giants to elusive beasts, folklore writer Anna Chorlton retells tales from North and East Cornwall.

The book contains stunning illustrations from Cornish artists and members of the community and the tales feature Cornwall’s stunning landscapes with its sandy beaches and moorlands featuring heavily.

Bob who is from The Bookshop Liskeard tells us a bit about the book: “Anna is a local poet and author and her traditional tales of Cornwall are full of mermaids, spiteful witches, piskeys, smugglers and ghosts. They are set on the wild and rugged moors of Bodmin Moor and along the majestic coves and bays of the Cornish coast. Anna visits the location for each story and describes the place before recounting the story linked to it. Visitors can go and see the places and then read the story!”

Like the author of this book, authors will be inspired by their surroundings and Bob can easily see why Cornwall is a popular setting: “Writers are often inspired by the environment and surroundings where they write. Cornwall is a county of such contrasts rugged wild moors, Granite cliffs and crashing waves as well as hidden sandy bays and coves. The history of Cornwall, mining, smuggling, fishing also makes great subjects for authors to explore.”

Jamaica Inn

Author: Daphne du Maurier

This iconic book follows the story of a young woman called Mary Yellan who decides to honour her mother’s dying request that she stay at Jamaica Inn on the rainswept Cornish coast with her Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn.

In the story you will learn about vile, villainous schemes that are being hatched within Jamaica Inn’s walls, meet fascinating characters and get introduced to the stunning landscapes surrounding the inn.

The St Ives Bookseller, one of the leading independent bookshops in the UK, highly recommends reading Jamaica Inn.

Manager Alice Harandon said: “When in Cornwall du Maurier is a must and this is the best place to start – although she wrote many more and at least another 6 with a Cornish setting (she actually wrote The Birds too, I don’t want to say they were based on our seagulls but the likeness is uncanny!). Jamaica Inn is a classic tale of smugglers and dark doings set around an isolated inn on Bodmin Moor. A brilliantly atmospheric story.”

Talking about why the likes of Daphne du Maurier and other writers use Cornwall as a setting for their books, Alice adds: “The county has its own distinct identity being one of the Celtic nations but less definite than say, Wales or Scotland. There is the sense that it is different to England but not entirely so. Its remaining traditions, myths, iconic mine houses and unique place names belie its Celtic roots, but the tongue is not widely spoken (although this is changing) and these have become loveable quirks. It is literally at the ‘Land’s End’ of England, but close enough to be holidayed in with many retaining fond memories of visits here, and so it is more accessible to readers.

“And of course, as so many love to visit and holiday here it’s the perfect setting for those living elsewhere to escape into and imagine themselves back on holiday for a brief time.”

The Soggy Bear Books

Author: Philip Moran

The Soggy Bear collection of books follow the adventures of a Cornish bear and in the stories, it makes use of the visual beauty of the Duchy.

The series of books have become hugely successful and some of the titles include Soggy The Bear, Soggy to the Rescue, Soggy and the Mermaid, Soggy and the Golden Treasure, Soggy the Sailor and Soggy and the Smugglers’ Cat.

The Falmouth Bookseller highly recommends the books to parents who are looking to get their children inspired about their holiday to Cornwall.

“Set in St Ives this series of children’s picture books follows the tale of Soggy the Bear from being left on a beach through all sorts of magical adventures. These have become somewhat of an institution in St Ives and with beautiful illustrations by Michael Foreman they’re the perfect take home for the kids.”

Ingo

Author: Helen Dunmore

This book is a magical adventure that follows the story of Sapphire and her brother Conor, and their discovery of INGO, a powerful and exciting world under the sea.

When Conor keeps disappearing for hours on end, Sapphire goes to the cove to look for him but instead meet a Merman named Faro. After she visits Ingo Sapphire yearns to go back and her brother fears she will leave the “Air” world for good and he pleads for her to ignore her cravings for the sea and instead to stay safe in their cottage.

The story includes Cornwall’s iconic coastlines, beaches and coves and Alice Harandon, the manager at St Ives Bookseller, says it is a great read for both children and adults: “This is a tale for those aged 9+ but the writing is so beautiful and compelling that I recommend adults give it a read too. It follows a Cornish brother and sister as they discover the underwater world of Ingo and the Merpeople who share its waters. Set in and around St Ives.”

The Salt Path

Author: Raynor Winn

The Salt Path is a fascinating story about how despite the collapse of their business and a cruel diagnosis, Raynor Winn and her husband Moth found themselves through the sea and the sky. The story takes you through the true ups and downs of life and how nature has an ability to heal.

The Falmouth Bookseller highly recommends people to read this book: “A beautifully written uplifting true story of a couple who after losing everything decided to walk the Salt Path.

“There are definitely some emotional moments but it’s a fantastic book which really captures the rugged natural beauty of Cornwall and has very quickly become a must-read for anyone here.”

Poldark

Author: Winston Graham

Cornwall is home to lots of contemporary authors and one of the most famous authors to base their story in Cornwall was Winston Graham, the author of Poldark.

The bestselling Poldark books are loved all over the world and the 12 novels in the series were published from 1945 to 1953. They are so well-liked as they blend unforgettable characters, drama, romance and the beauty of Cornwall into them.

The saga follows the life of the brooding Ross Poldark who has returned from the American Revolutionary War to find his father dead, his copper mine failing and his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful Elizabeth Chynoweth, engaged to his cousin.

Ross soon falls in love with a local girl called Demelza and looks to build a happy life for them whilst battling against his arch-enemy George Warleggan, a ruthless financier.

The books have since been made into two BBC television series – one in the 1970s and another which began in 2015. They have both been hugely successful.

These are just some of the books that have been set in the Duchy, but if you read any of these you will be inspired to book your next trip to our Looe caravan park.

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