Released: March 2014
Home to Roost is the third book of Tessa’s memoirs relating to her move to Cornwall. The first set of memoirs, Up with the Larks, charts Tessa’s move to Cornwall and the difficulty she has settling in and adjusting to life away from the city. Tessa and her husband Ben have plans to set up a pottery business but soon realise this will not earn them a living and that they will have to diversify. Tessa manages to secure a job as a postie which helps her to get to know the locals very quickly who give her a rich and diverse source of material for her writing. The follow on to this, Seagulls in the Attic, sees everyone more settled and, happily for Tessa, her best friend from the city, Annie, joining her in Cornwall more often. All the memoirs are well presented even though they do meander from topic to topic as she wanders around the Cornish coast delivering the mail.
In this latest book the focus is on the struggle to make ends meet as house prices continue to rise and work is short for everyone. Sadly many of the Cornish people have to rent out their homes and camp out to bring in extra income and Tessa decides to join them. Tessa has become a valuable part of the community by now and is accepted totally by the locals. There is a noticeable shift in Tessa’s feelings in this book as she has settled more into country life and begins to lose patience with the city people whose company she used to enjoy so much.
All the books give a really honest account of life in a holiday resort. Tessa’s background of working for the Body Shop has given her a valuable insight into the natural world and its importance to everyone. Tessa imparts her knowledge about flora and fauna and working with diverse communities as the book progresses. She gives plenty of helpful reminders and back story about her friends and neighbours so even without reading any of the other books there is still a strong sense of context. I did find I got tired of these constant reminders but then again, I did read the three books quickly in succession whereas if I’d had more space between them I would have found these reminders quite helpful.
At times Tessa describes the landscape and lifestyle she leads so vividly that I would gladly go and join her in Cornwall. Her life is by no means idyllic and that is what I most admire about these memoirs. She is very honest about the downside of living in a holiday resort, the constant struggle to find time for themselves in summer, the struggle to make ends meet in the winter and the dreadful attitude of some of the holiday makers towards the local population as well as the exorbitant cost of living, problems that many people living in beauty spots face.
The memoirs have all been well written and are full of lively characters who are all the more interesting because they are real. Tessa herself is a formidable and admirable person and all the more endearing because she really writes from the heart and the reader gets a real sense of being there. It’s almost as good as going on holiday, but not quite.