Book review: The Postcard by Fern Britton

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 31st May 2016

091192-FCXFern Britton makes the rest of us seem woefully inadequate. She’s one of the UK’s best-loved broadcasters, has completed a host of mega bike rides across Egypt, India and Cuba (raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process) and recently took part in a series of short films to highlight maternal mental illness in the UK.

If all that wasn’t enough, she has also metamorphosed into a bestselling novelist. Books like A Seaside Home and The Holiday Home have cantered into the bestseller lists with the utmost of ease – and her latest, The Postcard, looks set to do the same.

The Postcard is the first Fern Britton novel that I’ve read and it’s a cracking story, largely because it combines a host of themes close to Britton’s heart, like motherhood, TV and Cornwall.

The star of the show is TV producer Penny Leighton, who combines a starry freelance job in London with life as a vicar’s wife in Cornwall. She and her husband Simon are both in their forties and much to their delight and surprise have a gorgeous baby daughter called Jenna. Britton cleverly conveys the mix of utter devotion to Jenna and the complete exhaustion that comes with looking after a small baby.

The start of the novel hints at the trauma of Penny’s early life – the father she loved and lost and the mother and sister who never seemed to care about her at all. Sure enough, after the death of her mother (there’s a story there but I don’t want to give the game away), Penny’s sister Suzie turns up, eager to heal the resentments of the past and be friends. The ghastly Suzie is a brilliant creation on Britton’s part – a scheming, selfish, self-absorbed character who’s out to wreak havoc in everyone’s lives, and very nearly succeeds.

The Postcard is a compelling read, made all the more so thanks to the stunning Cornish setting. You can tell how much Britton adores the place because the seaside walks and descriptions of village life are so lovingly told. You can almost smell the salty sea air and picture the rounders match at the Pendruggan summer fair.

My only reservation was that Penny’s story is so gripping that some of the more minor characters appear a little neglected in comparison. I’m desperate to know more about Ella, the young artist who becomes Jenna’s nanny and who has a complex back-story of her own, about Helen, Penny’s best friend, who has an intriguing boyfriend called Piran, and about Kit and Adam, the dashing cousins who have just set up home in Penny’s village. The epilogue hints that there is going to be a sequel to this book – and I for one can’t wait.

This review is part of The Postcard blog tour. Thank you very much to HarperCollins for sending me the book.

The Postcard by Fern Britton (HarperCollins, £12.99)

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