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The Serpentine Cave

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When Marion's mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, she is left confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. she has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of the hundreds of paintings in her When Marion's mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, she is left confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. she has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of the hundreds of paintings in her mother's studio, one, a portrait of a young man, is inscribed 'For Marion'. Is this her father? And who was he? Marion's search takes her to the Cornish town of St Ives. In the remote and closeknit town where communities of fisherfolk and artists have coexisted for many years, she learns of a tragedy which is intrinsically tied up with her father's life. Over fifty years before, the St Ives lifeboat went down with all hands bar one. Marion must delve deep into the past to discover the identity of a man she never knew,a nd in so doing confront the demons which have tortured her own adult life. The Serpentine Cave is an imagined story containing a true one - a powerful novel about memory and loss, birth and rebirth, and past regrets which still have the power to plague the present.

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When Marion's mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, she is left confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. she has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of the hundreds of paintings in her When Marion's mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, she is left confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. she has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of the hundreds of paintings in her mother's studio, one, a portrait of a young man, is inscribed 'For Marion'. Is this her father? And who was he? Marion's search takes her to the Cornish town of St Ives. In the remote and closeknit town where communities of fisherfolk and artists have coexisted for many years, she learns of a tragedy which is intrinsically tied up with her father's life. Over fifty years before, the St Ives lifeboat went down with all hands bar one. Marion must delve deep into the past to discover the identity of a man she never knew,a nd in so doing confront the demons which have tortured her own adult life. The Serpentine Cave is an imagined story containing a true one - a powerful novel about memory and loss, birth and rebirth, and past regrets which still have the power to plague the present.

30 review for The Serpentine Cave

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    A light enjoyable story of a woman finally finding herself after the sudden death of her mother. It is nicely written with well rounded characters and believable dialogue. Most of all though I enjoyed the setting in Cornwall, England. I spent many childhood holidays there and mentions of Hayle, Slapton Sands and Gwithian amongst others brought back happy memories. The author must have spent a lot of time there too because her descriptions of St Ives and its surrounds are spot on. Read for a challe A light enjoyable story of a woman finally finding herself after the sudden death of her mother. It is nicely written with well rounded characters and believable dialogue. Most of all though I enjoyed the setting in Cornwall, England. I spent many childhood holidays there and mentions of Hayle, Slapton Sands and Gwithian amongst others brought back happy memories. The author must have spent a lot of time there too because her descriptions of St Ives and its surrounds are spot on. Read for a challenge but it was still a few hours well spent:)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    'The Serpentine Cave' by Jill Paton Walsh started well; Marion's mother dies and Marion regrets not asking her more about the father she never knew who she was told 'died in the war'. This shortish story follows Marion and her children in their search for her roots. Paton Walsh's strength is in her lovely descriptive prose and she is in her element describing St Ives and the Cornish coast, and the history of the artist's colony there in the 1930s. The story unfolds slowly and is quite gripping, 'The Serpentine Cave' by Jill Paton Walsh started well; Marion's mother dies and Marion regrets not asking her more about the father she never knew who she was told 'died in the war'. This shortish story follows Marion and her children in their search for her roots. Paton Walsh's strength is in her lovely descriptive prose and she is in her element describing St Ives and the Cornish coast, and the history of the artist's colony there in the 1930s. The story unfolds slowly and is quite gripping, but in the end I felt disappointed. Marion's mother comes across as a careless, dismissive and quite obnoxious mother and, as a reader, you want to know the reason for this. Yet after the denoument when we have learnt all there is to know about Marion's mother and father, I couldn't understand why the author had made her like this. It didn't make sense to me; from what we learnt of her situation I would have thought she would have been caring and loving. So it was all a bit of a letdown.

  3. 5 out of 5

    The Idle Woman

    3.5 stars. There’s always a frisson of excitement when you come across a ‘new’ book by an author you like. Jill Paton Walsh’s Knowledge of Angels is one of my all-time favourite novels, as many of you will probably know, and so I was excited when J gave me this novel, which he’d unearthed in a second-hand bookshop and which I’d never heard of before. It’s very different in spirit – a tale of quiet, private truths rather than the epic resonances of Knowledge of Angels – but it’s nevertheless a mov 3.5 stars. There’s always a frisson of excitement when you come across a ‘new’ book by an author you like. Jill Paton Walsh’s Knowledge of Angels is one of my all-time favourite novels, as many of you will probably know, and so I was excited when J gave me this novel, which he’d unearthed in a second-hand bookshop and which I’d never heard of before. It’s very different in spirit – a tale of quiet, private truths rather than the epic resonances of Knowledge of Angels – but it’s nevertheless a moving tale of a woman trying to piece together her identity from the fragments left behind on her mother’s death... For the full review, please see my blog: https://theidlewoman.net/2018/04/16/t...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Jill Patton Walsh is a terrific story teller. She knows how to interject characters and weave them into her stories throughout the entire book. This is a story of a grown woman Marian, a daughter, who holds deep resentments for her mother. The mother used painting as an escape and moved them around constantly.She never knew the identity of her father. She felt lost and resentful. Things get complicated when the mother suffers a serious stroke from which she never recovers and dies shortly therea Jill Patton Walsh is a terrific story teller. She knows how to interject characters and weave them into her stories throughout the entire book. This is a story of a grown woman Marian, a daughter, who holds deep resentments for her mother. The mother used painting as an escape and moved them around constantly.She never knew the identity of her father. She felt lost and resentful. Things get complicated when the mother suffers a serious stroke from which she never recovers and dies shortly thereafter. Her own children join her after their grandmother's stroke and offer support. Many of the best painting her mom did were from St Ives in Cornwall so she sets off to try to figure out whence she came and who her father was. The story is told with feeling and in the end she comes to realize what both her mom had lost long ago and how her resentments had caused her to loose precious time with her mother.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Serpentine here refers to a kind of colored stone, not winding, as in a staircase. Marian returns to Cornwall after her artist mother’s death to try to find her father, whose identity she does not know. Alice and Toby, her adult children, accompany her. In the process the kids find out what they want out of life and Marian finds closure on a horrifying experience that she had had as a child in the serpentine cave. Local color is done well. The story uses as one theme an historic storm in 1939 w Serpentine here refers to a kind of colored stone, not winding, as in a staircase. Marian returns to Cornwall after her artist mother’s death to try to find her father, whose identity she does not know. Alice and Toby, her adult children, accompany her. In the process the kids find out what they want out of life and Marian finds closure on a horrifying experience that she had had as a child in the serpentine cave. Local color is done well. The story uses as one theme an historic storm in 1939 when a lifeboat went out to help rescue a ship, but capsized and almost all hands were lost.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Robert Ditterich

    Beautifully written, this is a literary sort of story, but not a heavy one. Outwardly the narrative is about family, love and loss, but it is rich in Cornish history and culture- in particular the influx of artists into the town of St.Ives by the end of the 1930's in tandem with the depletion of fish to be caught, and jobs to be had, and there are plenty of references to the arts, as well as the old traditions of the fishing life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    The Serpentine Cave is a beautifully written story about a middle aged woman's search for her unknown father. Set in Cornwall, this novel evokes the spirit of this special region of England, and is a lovely study of a woman's search for her self in the context of her own past and that of her homeland.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tessa

    Interesting story based on a true event.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    A very pleasing rainy weekendy kind of book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    O.K., but...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Guner

    Well, I think reading the instructions for my dishwasher is more entertaining than this book! A mixture between Enid Blyton and Woman's Own....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Foggie

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ceri Chamberlain

  15. 4 out of 5

    M

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emma Kerr

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fourborne

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  20. 4 out of 5

    Humahjb

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kat Warren

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dorada

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leah Kenworthy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 5 out of 5

    R J Broadbridge

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bessy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol Miller

  29. 5 out of 5

    Helen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

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