The Great Western Beach

The Great Western Beach

3.98 (55 ratings on Goodreads)
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The Great Western Beach is Emma Smith's wonderfully atmospheric memoir of a 1920s childhood in Newquay, Cornwall. She recalls the rocks, the sea, the beaches, the picnics, the teas and pasties, the bracing walks, the tennis tournaments and bathing parties, the curious residents and fascinating holiday-makers - relishing every glorious, salty detail. But above all this is a portrait of a family from the astonishingly clear-eyed perspective of a nine-year-old girl: her furious, frustrated father, perpetually on his way to becoming a world famous artist but suffering the indignity of being a lowly bank clerk; her beautiful, unperceptive mother, made for better things perhaps but at least, with three fiances killed in the Great War, married with children at last; the twins, fearless, defiant Pam and sickly, bewildered Jim, for whom life is always an uphill climb, and baby Harvey, brought on the same winds of change that mean that life, with all its complication and wonder, cannot stay still and the Cornish playground of Emma's childhood will one day be lost more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 28mm | 240.4g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrations, ports.
  • 0747596611
  • 9780747596615
  • 242,536

About Emma Smith

Emma Smith was born in Cornwall in 1923. During World War II she volunteered to work on the canals as a boatwoman. Later, these experiences would become the basis for her memoir Maidens' Trip, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 1946, Smith went to India with a team of documentary film-makers including Laurie Lee. She then moved to Paris and wrote the novel The Far Cry, based on her time in India. It became her second bestseller and was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1949. Susan Hill helped revive Emma Smith's career: she found a copy of The Far Cry in a jumble sale and wrote a piece for the Telegraph about it. The Far Cry was re-issued by Persephone Books in 2002 Emma Smith went on to write a further novel and numerous successful children's books. Since 1980 she has lived in Putney, more

Review quote

'Think back to the time before you were 12. Think of seagulls; sandcastles; children's voices, the roar of the sea. That image gives you the sense of release and pure joy that courses like life blood through Emma Smith's enchanting recollection of growing up in Newquay ... Emma Smith has written a book that should - and I hope does - endure as a classic among memoirs of childhood. I savoured every page' Miranda Seymour, Evening Standard 'A wonderful book, full of unexpected effects, and I suspect that it will become a classic of the genre ... there is a powerful emotional undertow to this memoir that drags you in and carries you off ... so sincerely compassionate that I honestly can't read it without weeping' Lynne Truss, Sunday Times 'Evocative, witty and profoundly moving book' Daily Telegraph The Great Western Beach deserves to become an overnight classic and to find a home at holiday cottage bedsides from St. Ives to Great Yarmouth' Patrick Gale, author of Notes on an Exhibitionshow more
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