Thursday 15 September 2022


Book review: Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies by Ali McNamara

Ali McNamara has been one of my go-to women's fiction authors ever since I read Step Back In Time in 2013 (nearly 10 years ago now, wow!). I've devoured many of her books since, such as Letters From Lighthouse Cottage and The Little Flower Shop by the Sea. And after not really picking up contemporary romance fiction for a few years, it were her novels that got me right back into them. Returning to her fictional town of St Felix in Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies felt like reuniting with an old friend. 

The aptly named Sky has always been obsessed with the weather. She has a very scientific mindset and so it's not surprising that she is a successful meteorologist. However, due to health issues we do not know the details about at the start of the book, she has not worked for a while. When she feels ready to take the first, tentative steps back into the workplace, she is send to a remote island near St Felix to monitor strange weather patterns that have been recorded in the area. 

While the fresh sea air might be just what Sky needs to find her footing again, what she hadn't counted on was an unexpected partner in the form of Sonny Samuels, or Jamie to his friends. He is a loud and brash weather forecaster, popular with the ladies but without any actual qualifications in meteorology. He is a far cry from the quiet respite Sky had been hoping for, and that's before she even witnesses the first cloud formations that are scientifically impossible...

What an utter delight it was to return to St Felix in Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies. This may be the first book by Ali McNamara I've read that is set there after actually having visited Cornwall myself last summer, and she has done such a wonderful job capturing the iconic feeling I remember of the county. From the adorable streets of the town and the delectable pasties, right through to the fictional island of Aurora, which reminded me of St Michael's Mount in Marazion where the causeway also appears and disappears depending on the tide. 

Although this was a return to a favourite location, the main characters were all new ones to get acquainted with. There is Sky, first and foremost, and through her author Ali McNamara shines a spotlight on trying to readjust life to living with a hidden illness. This is not a topic I've come across in my fiction reads yet, but it's such an important one for people to understand and be thoughtful about – I learned a lot. 

I did feel somewhat frustrated by how judgmental Sky came across herself at times, especially about "Sonny". For all her talk about not being quick to define who someone is, it takes her an awfully long time to set her own prejudices aside and give Jamie a fair chance. I understand that she is far from perfect, and this makes her character more realistic, but as an outsider looking in I wanted her to practice what she preached sooner. 

Thankfully though, there were some major character developments in both Sky and Jamie throughout the novel. The cast was rounded out by meteorologist-in-training, Talia, and locals Fisher and Walt – an eclectic and delightful mix of characters. And since this is not the first book set in St Felix, some favourites from Ali McNamara's previous novels made an appearance as well. Mostly in the background, but there were some lovely scenes with Jack from Kate and Clara's Curious Cornish Craft Shop

Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies is a wonderful addition to the St Felix series. The book pages exude sea air (and freshly baked pasties) with a great cast of new and old characters, a powerful story about hidden disabilities, Enid Blyton-esque adventures, adorable romances, and a touch of magical realism to boot – everything readers could possibly wish for in an Ali McNamara novel!

Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies by Ali McNamara is published by Sphere (an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group) and you can now buy a copy from your favourite local book shop!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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