Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Ebook, Paperback (19 August 2021)
ABOUT THE BOOK
A remote yet beautiful Scottish 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 . . . ?
Beautiful, moving and utterly absorbing, The House Beneath the Cliffs is a novel of friendship and food, storms and secrets, and the beauty of second Chances. An exciting new voice in commercial fiction, perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop and Kate Morton.
The spring sky above the ocean was a bright and brilliant blue, streaked with the occasional wisp of white cloud, as if someone careless had released candyfloss into the North Sea wind. Anna drove to the edge of the cliff, where the road vanished over what seemed to be a blunt edge, and then on past the sign declaring the point beyond which only the cars of residents should pass.
Around her grassy farmland tipped towards the water, until the slope became an angle that not even the cattle could abide. The road cut down and over the cliffs, sinking quickly between green-covered clefts splashed with the paint of wildflowers nodding in the breeze. Halfway down, a precipitous footpath divided itself from the tarmac, a wooden sign pointing the way on foot. The road continued on, curling back on itself in a bend so sharp that Anna wasn’t sure she’d make it, even in her tiny tin-can excuse for a car. Beyond it the village of Crovie unspooled below her to her right, a string of houses clinging like colourful limpets to the wild lip of the narrow shoreline beneath the cliffs.
The road opened out slightly as it reached level ground, backed by one or two wooden huts before it turned into a rocky beach that curved away from the village towards a towering promontory of grass-shrouded red rock. Before her the North Sea stretched into the horizon, the edge of the land crashing down to meet it in overlapping folds that reached far into the softening distance. The tide was out, the road squeezed between the cliffs and a sheer drop down onto a jagged field of wet black rocks and smaller tumbled stones. Anna pulled up and switched off her engine, staring out at the dip and swell of the blue-green expanse ahead and trying to gather her thoughts.
She’d been there less than two minutes before a shadow slanted against her face, swiftly followed by a single, sharp rap on the glass. Through it scowled an old man. Anna wound down the window.
‘You canna park here,’ he said. ‘Tis for residents only.’ He turned briefly to shake his cane at the backside of another sign she’d ignored. ‘Tourists have to park at the top an’ walk.’
‘But I am a resident,’ Anna told him. ‘I—’
‘B&B and holiday rentals dinnae count,’ he interrupted, still scowling. ‘Tourists park at the top.’
Anna decided that she was done being at a disadvantage and so unclipped her seat belt and pushed open the door. Once she was on her feet she stood a head over him, yet he remained imposing. His shoulders, hunched now, were still broad and must have once been powerful. Lines traced around his eyes and mouth, deep creases weathered by a life probably lived largely outdoors.
‘I’m not a tourist,’ she said. ‘I’m a resident. A permanent one. I’ve bought the Fishergirl’s Luck.’ Anna tried for a smile and put out a hand. ‘It’s nice to meet you, Mr . . .’
He recoiled as if she was holding out something offensive, then looked her up and down with clear contempt. ‘You?’ he hissed. ‘You’re the one?’
‘I . . . yes. My name’s Anna. Anna Campbell. I—’
He shocked her by turning away and spitting violently at the ground. ‘That bloody place,’ he said, ‘Auld Robbie should ha’ let the ruddy sea tek it.’ Then he turned his back and began to hobble away, faster than she would have given him credit for.
‘Wait,’ she called, after a moment. ‘Please, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. Can’t we talk, just for a minute?’ He didn’t stop. Anna watched his retreating back with a sense of dread. She leaned against the car, feeling suddenly defeated. She hadn’t even been here five minutes and her worst fears had been realized. This wasn’t going to be a haven. No one was going to want her here. A wave of nausea coiled up through her gut and she took a deep breath, drawing in a lungful of salt air. Overhead the gulls screeched and wheeled and for a moment it seemed to her that they were laughing.
Of course they are, she thought. What were you thinking? Why didn’t you go abroad, like Cathy suggested? You could have just rented a cottage in Spain, or Italy, somewhere warm. Why here?
Why buy the damn place at all? Why?
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation and place on the tour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon Gosling lives with her husband in a very remote village in northern Cumbia, where they moved to run a second-hand bookshop, Withnail Books in Penrith. She began her career in entertainment journalism, writing for magazines in the science fiction and fantasy genre, before moving on to write tie-in books for TV shows such as Stargate and the ‘re-imagined’ Battlestar Galactica. She has also written, produced and directed audio dramas based in the same genre.
When she’s not writing, she creates beautiful linocut artwork and is the author of multiple children’s books. The House Beneath the Cliffs is her first adult novel.
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