Away form the hotels and holiday lets, there is an unseen side of Cornwall, where the shifting uncertainties of the future breed resentment and mistrust.
Melody Janie is hidden.
She lives alone in a caravan in Bones Break: a small cliff top on Cornwall’s north coast. She spends her time roaming her territory, spying on passing tourists and ramblers, and remembering. She sees everything and yet remains unseen.
However, when a stranger enters her life, she is forced to confront not only him but the terrible tragedies of her past.
The Lip is a novel about childhood, isolation and mental health, told in the unique and unforgettable voice of Melody Janie.
What an incredible read The Lip was, Melody Janie tells her story in her own words, detailing the beauty of Cornwall and her specific location living in a caravan on a scenic cliff between 2 small towns. Melody Janie is alone and her life feels very remote and at one with the landscape, she observes, she hides and she survives. She is a bit of an unknown quantity but as the story progresses we learn her tragic circumstances and she seems increasingly vulnerable, especially with the arrival of a secretive and somewhat hostile stranger whose motives are unclear. Is he concerned about Melody Janie, whose unusual behaviour draws his attention or is his interest somewhat more sinsister.
In Melody Janie we have a character who, for a number of reasons has always lived a little on the margins, however her loving family were a protective factor and when they are suddenly no longer there her vulnerablity feels unsafe. She has a friend who seems to share this view and is desperate for Melody Janie to stay with her, Melody Janie has her own reasons for declining this. The mysterious stranger was an aspect of the story that increased the uncertainty and I particularly liked this aspect of the story, which definitely kept me turning pages for longer than I intended.
In less than 400 pages the author has created a compelling character driven novel exploring family, loss, friendship and mental health. It was a brilliant read, drawing me into Melody’s life, while also being in the position that she was not in, that is to recognise the strangeness of her situation and the fact that it could not be sustained. Highly recommend this book which is published today.
Set in Cornwall the story was enlightening for me in detailing the impact of tourism and the popularity of second homes and holiday lets, leaving out of season ghost towns and properties unaffordable to locals. The transient nature of the holiday makers always felt risky to Melody who was alone and largely invisible, but very present. Melody is explicit in her dislike of tourists although recognises their value in the survival of many local businesses. I love Cornwall, don’t we all? But this book did make me think some more about the impact of masses of visitors over the summer months and how this must feel and while there is a ‘co dependence’ here, for want of a better word, there was something for me about being sensitve to this.
About the Author
Charlie Carroll is the author of three non-fiction book: The Friendship Highway (2014), No Fixed Abode (2013) and On the Edge (2010). He has twice won the K Blundell Trust Award for ‘writers under 40 who aim to riase social awareness with teir writing’ and is one of the Kindness of Strangers storytellers. He lives in Cornwall.
This is an Instagram Tour so if you are on Instagram do check out what others are saying about this extraordinary novel.