The Great Western Beach: A Memoir of a Cornish Childhood Between the Wars

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The Hallsmiths are a truly remarkable family; or that, at least, is how Elspeth’s parents would like to be perceived. But Father, a hero of the Great War, convinced his destiny is to become a famous painter, has to suffer with gritted teeth the ignominy of his actual position in society—that of lowly bank clerk. And although Mother, bereaved of three fiancés during the Great War, is at last a married woman with children, she does have the unfortunate knack of upstaging her husband, being, unlike him, tall, ...

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Overview

The Hallsmiths are a truly remarkable family; or that, at least, is how Elspeth’s parents would like to be perceived. But Father, a hero of the Great War, convinced his destiny is to become a famous painter, has to suffer with gritted teeth the ignominy of his actual position in society—that of lowly bank clerk. And although Mother, bereaved of three fiancés during the Great War, is at last a married woman with children, she does have the unfortunate knack of upstaging her husband, being, unlike him, tall, charming, and admired by everybody. As to the twins, fearless defiant Pam and sickly bewildered Jim, existence for them is an unremitting struggle. Elspeth, their younger sister, is Daddy’s favorite, but rather wishes she wasn’t. And it seems, at first anyway, as if money always in too short a supply to support those appearances thought so essential to the Hallsmith family dignity. But there is one thing about which Elspeth’s parents are in harmonious agreement—picnics on the beach. And when the family sets forth on summery Sunday outings loaded with picnic baskets and swimsuits, their quarrels will, for a brief interval, be forgotten, buried in sandcastles, washed out to sea on the tide, and they can be happy together. This marvelous memoir of a 1923 to 1935 childhood pulsates with life. Newquay—its eccentric residents and exotic holiday-makers, its tennis tournaments and bathing parties, invigorating walks and teas at the Rose Café—is the Hallsmith children’s entire world; a world observed and remembered in meticulous detail by young Elspeth. Written with enormous love and a gently caustic wit, it generates anatmosphere hauntingly different from the usual childhood reminiscences.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780747595915
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
  • Publication date: 6/2/2008
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Emma Smith's first book, Maiden’s Trip, was published in 1948 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. Her second, The Far Cry, was published the following year and was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. She is also the author of four children’s books, a number of short stories, and, in 1978, the novel The Opportunity of a Lifetime.

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