A Whisper of Life

Written by Gloria Cook
Review by Myfanwy Cook

Hennaford, a Cornish village, is the setting for the sixth book in the Harvey series. It is 1948 and Jonny Harvey, relegated to training pilots after a flying accident, is visiting his hard-working farming relations. He is disillusioned with his life and even his success with women no longer holds any charm. His only remaining interest in life is photography. Jonny’s stay coincides with the arrival of Abbie Rothwell, a young artist, and Tess Viant. Tess, who is nearly sixteen and crippled by polio, has a powerful and unforeseen impact on the lives of all those that she comes into contact with, especially Jonny.

It can often be difficult to become absorbed in a story that is part of a series, but Gloria Cook has overcome this pitfall with vivid characters. Tess Viant with her auburn hair and fairy-tale background and her brothers Sidney and Tom are particularly engaging. From a historical point of view details such as Tess’s longing to buy a wrist watch on her visit to Truro add an authentic late forties atmosphere to the novel. This will be a popular addition to the reading list of lovers of the Harvey family and of novels set in Cornwall.

The one drawback from the point of view of the first-time reader of the series is the cover design. The clothes worn by the characters in the illustration are too contemporary and unlike those worn during that period.