The Cliff House was randomly recommended to me by Matt Wesolowski after a conversation about the origin of my name (Tamzin – Cornish). My friend, who was also a part of the conversation had a copy and very kindly allowed me to borrow it. I discovered that the lead character was actually spelt Tamsyn, however there was also an Edie which just happens to be the name of the woman in my current Read of the Year! Author recommended and good choice of names, not a bad start for a book!
The Cliff House – the blurb
Cornwall, summer of 1986.
The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.
If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.
If only her life was as perfect as theirs.
If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.
If only she lived at The Cliff House…
Alice in Wonderland
The Cliff House was one of those books you go into not knowing much about it. I knew it had a Tamsyn and an Edie and was set in Cornwall but that was it. To start with I enjoyed reading about a teenager in the 1980s. Life was hard for Tamsyn and her family but they loved each other and were making it work.
Teenagers always fixate on one thing or another, usually the opposite sex, so initially you think Tamsyn’s interest in the Cliff House and its inhabitants is harmless. A way of escaping her grim reality. After all, who wouldn’t want to friends with Edie whose life was ‘dripped in gold’. Amongst the glamorous Davenports was it any wonder Tamsyn felt like Alice in Wonderland?
What Lies Beneath
It was only as the pages turned and you delved more deeply that you realised all was not well. Not in the Cliff House and not with Tamsyn. I loved the references to water that Jennings kept returning to. The sea, her childhood playground that took her beloved father. The swimming pool – an item of status, to be paraded round. Yet in a different light it became “A black mirror hiding my secrets beneath its polished surface.”
Tensions continued to build as the pages fell away. You find yourself thinking ‘things are really not ok, this really isn’t going to end well.’ It did end well however, well maybe not for the characters. I thought it unexpected but totally in keeping with the darkly disturbing path the plot led you along.