Travel To Cornwall with Lizzy Barber and Nanny Wanted
Travel To Cornwall with Nanny Wanted
Travel To Cornwall with Lizzy Barber and Nanny Wanted – Nanny Wanted is the story of a young woman, Lily, who leaves behind a toxic relationship in London to become a nanny for the wealthy and mysterious Rowe family. The position seems like the dream solution, but the more Lily becomes tangled in the Rowe’s complicated lives, the more she begins to suspect it’s not the past she should be running from…
Like most of the country during the pandemic, I spent two beautiful summers in Cornwall. Although I had been to Cornwall before, this was really when I fell in love with the area, and it was on the last trip there that inspiration struck, driving through one of those beautifully myopic Cornish country lanes, and the plot for Nanny Wanted fell on me.
With a Cornish setting, Daphne Du Maurier was of course never far from my mind, and where Rebecca has Manderley, the focal point of Nanny Wanted is the dark and foreboding Rowe family mansion, Kewney. The fictional Cornish mansion is located on the Roseland Peninsula, a stretch of craggy coastline dotted with fishing villages. It is unnamed in the book, but the location I used for my fictional village is roughly around Lantic Bay – just up from Menabilly, Daphne Du Maurier’s home.
The sense of place was so important for me here – I wanted Kewney and the Cornish coast line it occupies to feel like characters in their own right – and I took plenty of video, photography and notes when I was visiting so that I could fully immerse myself when I was writing. Little details like hedges studded with cows parsley, the scent of blowsy roses after rain and, in block capitals in my notes, WIND!, were vital for me to get across the beauty and mystery of the setting.
Fun fact: one of the key features of Kewney mansion is the smuggler’s tunnels that run under the building and down to a private cove. This was actually inspired by a listing I read in The Modern House for Halzephron House, although unfortunately when I contacted the owners they said they’d been unable to locate the tunnels themselves!
Looking after her young charges, Lily traverses through much of the east coast, visiting the Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Eden Project and the little fishing village of Looe – where, in another life, I actually stayed when I starred in The Boyfriend at the Liskeard open air theatre! In an earlier draft, I actually had a scene where the family went to visit the theatre itself. Later, she takes them to the Minnack Theatre, an amazing outdoor amphitheatre set against the cliffs, Tintagel, the home of King Arthur, and the Barbara Hepworth Museum, where I have often let my son romp around the alien-like sculptures set amidst lush foliage.
Needing to get some space from all that happens at Kewney, Lily takes herself off to Charlestown, a picturesque harbour town I have happy holiday memories of. Although, like Lily, I was disappointed to discover that it is the filming location for Poldark (the show itself is unnamed in the book!), so has been slightly overrun with themed paraphernalia. As Lily does in the book, I sat and watched the children brazenly jumping off the harbour’s edge into the water knowing there was no way I was brave enough to follow suite.
My favourite chapter in the book – although it is a quieter and more contemplative scene – is where Lily drives to Lizard Point with the Kewney Manor gardener, Joss, with whom she has developed a confusing friendship. This is the southern-most tip of Cornwall, where the Atlantic meets the Channel, and for me it’s one of the most beautiful places in England, with dramatic coastal views and turquoise blue waters.
Lily and Joss follow the South West Coast Path to Kynance Cove, a walk I have done myself. It is here where Lily takes in the ‘strange Cornish mysticism’ that so drew me to the place: the dappled sunlight, the sound of warblers in the trees, the scent of herbal flowers carried on the sea breeze.
Kynance Cove itself is like stepping into another country, with a white sand beach and stunningly clear water (although unfortunately unlike the Caribbean it’s still freezing), and Joss points out the curiously named islands you can see from the shore: Asparagus Island, The Lion, The Bishop, Sugarloaf. This scene really is a love letter to all that moves me about the Cornish coastline, and I hope that comes across in reading!
Thank you so much Lizzy for such a wonderful trail and Cornish insights!
BookTrail Boarding Pass: Nanny Wanted