It’s publication day for The Cornish Dressmaker by Nicola Pryce and I arrived home from my trip to India earlier this week to find a lovely copy had arrived whilst I’d been away. Consequently I haven’t had chance to read it yet but I have been lucky enough to stay in with one of the characters from the book, Gwen, to find out more about it!
The Cornish Dressmaker is published today, 3rd May 2018, by Corvus Books and is available for purchase here.
Staying in with Gwen
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Gwen. It’s a first for me to stay in with a character from a book and not an author.
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m Gwen, by the way. I’m married to Elowyn’s brother. I’m her best friend.
Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Oh, I’d much rather be here. Far safer to be here with you than out on the quayside – there’s no moon outside and it’s very dark.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought you The Cornish Dressmaker by Nicola Pryce. It’s her third book and it’s about my friend Elowyn Liddicot who runs the dressmaker’s shop above Pengelly’s Yard. You might have met her in Pengelly’s Daughter or The Captain’s Girl.
(These look wonderful books for your friend Elowyn to feature in Gwen.)
Time’s passing, it’s now 1796 and Sir James is thrilled his clay mines are beginning to show profit. The new sea lock’s working well and his clay’s getting shipped faster than ever – but are we alone, Linda? May I talk freely?
(Of course you may Gwen. What’s the problem?)
Only, I’m that concerned about Elowyn. Two men are vying for her attention and she doesn’t know who to choose. She says, why marry at all? Her dressmaking business is doing well and she’s got savings under the floor boards. Between you and me, I think she’s making a big mistake.
(Hmm. I’ll have to read The Cornish Dressmaker and then get back to you Gwen to see if I agree.)
What can we expect from an evening in with The Cornish Dressmaker?
Well, there’ll be Mrs Munroe’s pies for a start!
(Ah – I might have started on Mrs Munroe’s pie without you…)
And there’ll be Mr Pitt licking his paws in his basket. We’ll sit round the kitchen table in Mrs Pengelly’s beautiful house and we’ll watch Billy mend the spit. She’ll pour us a glass of Madeira and we’ll sit sewing and laughing. We can talk about the opening of the new lock, the beautiful pier houses – the way that man swept her up in his arms. Bold as brass he was, just swept her up and kissed her like … well, never you mind what like. But if Billy gets his way, we’ll talk of nothing but waterwheels and water courses and how the lock stays full.
(Now, you can’t just tell me that about the kiss. I need to know more!)
What else have you brought along and why?
I’ve brought you tickets, Linda. You’re to put on your sailing gear and join me on a tall ship. Sir James says I’m to show you his lock and how it works. We’re to go to Charlestown and board The Phoenix. The men will haul us out to the outer lock then the wind will catch our sails. Wrap up, mind, those sea frets come in thick and fast; soon as you look round, there’s nothing but mist and dark alleys. But if the weather’s kind, we’ll sail from the harbour so you can see how the lock gates open and shut. Then we’ll walk round the harbour and I can show you the pier houses that Nathan built. Now there’s a man – Nathan Cardew – and me, a married woman!
(That sounds a real adventure. And I’d like to meet Nathan too whilst we’re out if possible.)
After our sail, we’re to go to work – not sewing this time, but scraping the sand and grit off the dried blocks of clay. Be warned, though, it’s hard work and your fingertips will crack. You’ll get dust in your eyes and down your throat. We’ll be under the thatch but exposed to the wind. Here, I’ve brought you a picture. It’s a hundred years from now, but they look just the same. See those pretty bonnets? They’re the ones Elowyn designed. Once we’ve scraped off all the impurities, they’ll pack them in the carts and take them to the harbour. Then off up to the potteries – did I tell you, Mr Sellick won the Wedgewood contract? Sir James is that chuffed.
(I’m not so sure I like the sound of that task Gwen.)
We’ll be tired after that, I can tell you – so we’ll put our feet up by the hearth, but I’ve brought you something else. Here, shut the door, I shouldn’t really have this. Look, a love token. See how he’s rubbed it free of all markings before he engraved it? Mind you, coins are hard to come by, the shortage is getting worse. Still, she loves this token. Quick, put it away, I hear my Tom coming.
Oo. How romantic. Thanks so much for staying in with me Gwen to tell me all about Elowyn and Nicola Pryce’s books. I’ve really enjoyed it. If you see Nicola, wish her a happy publication day from me please.
I will Linda and thank you for having me.
The Cornish Dressmaker
Seamstress Elowyn Liddicot’s family believe they’ve secured the perfect future for her, in the arms of Nathan Cardew. But then one evening, Elowyn helps to rescue a dying man from the sea, and everything changes. William Cotterell, wild and self-assured, refuses to leave her thoughts or her side – but surely she can’t love someone so unlike herself?
With Elowyn’s dressmaking business suddenly under threat, her family’s pressure to marry Nathan increasing, and her heart decidedly at odds with her head, Elowyn doesn’t know who to trust any more. And when William uncovers a sinister conspiracy that affects her whole world, can Elowyn find the courage to support the people she loves in the face of all opposition?
Out today you can buy The Cornish Dressmaker here.
About Nicola Pryce
Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She has always loved literature and completed an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure.
Pengelly’s Daughter was the first novel in her new Cornish saga. Her second novel, The Captain’s Girl was published last July and The Cornish Dressmaker in May 2018.
Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers Association.