Book Review: A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

A Perfect Cornish Christmas is a 2019 book by Phillipa Ashley that follows Scarlett and Ellie, two sisters who head to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow after the reveal of a shocking family secret the year before has left the family feeling anything but merry and bright. When Scarlett found out that Ellie was only her half-sister, all she’s wanted since is to find out who her real father is. So she heads to Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further. Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival, but can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year? Or are there more surprises on the way?


I saw the words “Cornish” and “Christmas” and I was in! But while A Perfect Cornish Christmas is a well-written and gripping drama, I didn’t feel the Cornish or festive atmosphere so it missed out on the two things that I wanted from it.

Even though Ashley uses some local sayings and the fact that my town is actually mentioned (Bodmin), I like books set in Cornwall to make me feel breeze of the sea and allow me to picture the beautiful harbours, but I didn’t feel any of that with this book. Nor did it make me feel festive. Cornwall probably isn’t the best place to set a festive book because there’s never really a lot going on and we’re always the last to get the snow, so it didn’t really put me in the Christmas mood.

Set during any other time of year, I would have liked this book a lot more. Because was it really a perfect Christmas? It all seemed a bit stressful to me. I read Christmas books to escape with a bit of feel-good romance, but I was just happy to be sat at home with no drama going on while reading this one.

In a way, I should be praising this book for telling a REAL family story at Christmas. It didn’t sugar-coat everything just because of a date, and although there are some happy endings, it was tough work getting there. Instead, A Perfect Cornish Christmas is about disappointments and family conflicts, which is what we are more likely to experience, and showing how the lead up to the big day can usually be more stress than it’s worth.

I don’t mean to discredit this book it is really well-written and some of the reveals made me give a little gasp. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

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