Saturday, May 15, 2021

Book Review of The Golden Cup: A Cornwall Family Saga



Image by falco from Pixabay 

The Mysterious Photograph

This family saga by Marcia Millett is set on the north coast of Cornwall. It begins and ends with an American man who brings a letter and photograph to Mrs. Honor Trevannion, better known to her family as Mutt. She is a widow who had returned to her husband Huber's family home, Paradise, after his death in India, bringing his two young children, Bruno and Emma. Only Bruno and Mutt knew Mutt and Emma weren't who they were supposed to be. Huber's family had never met his wife. The reader knows from almost the beginning something is fishy. Because of the letters. 

Mutt and Bruno were knowingly living a lie that affected everyone around them. The American with the photograph, Dan Crosby, led all those affected by the lie unknowingly to the truth. He was seeking news of his great-aunt Madeleine Grosjean. 

As the story begins Mutt was recovering from an infected broken ankle and was in bed.  Mousie, a close family friend and  her nurse, did not let Dan in to see her. He left the letter and photo and said he'd return the next weekend.

Why Deceive?

Mutt (Madeleine) had assumed the identity of Honor Travannion suddenly in 1946. She and Honor had been nurses together in India when Honor, her husband Huber, and their young daughter Emma had died of an illness. They had been planning to go back to America and had the papers to leave. Emma was the same age as Madeleine's daughter Lottie. 

There was much civil unrest and it was likely that foreigners who remained might die in the violence. To protect herself, her child Lottie, and Honor and Huber's child Bruno, Madeleine made the quick decision to use the papers to get all of them safely out of the country. Lottie became Emma. She was too young to remember being Lottie. They returned to Bruno's family and home in Cornwall. Madeleine lived with the constant fear of being discovered. 

Bruno already loved Mutt and Emma (Lottie). They and their parents had  been like family to each other in India, so it made sense for them to stay together. But both Mutt and Bruno knew they had a secret they had to keep. That's pretty hard for a five-year-year old, but he said nothing except when he and Mutt were together. 

By the time the American arrived with the photo, Emma and Bruno had grown up. Emma was married with a grown daughter, Joss. Bruno was separated from his wife. Mutt was on her deathbed. And Joss, had read the letters. 

The Letters

Mutt had been lonely after moving to Cornwall. She missed the company of her sister Vivian. The photo the American had brought was the picture of a double wedding in which Madeleine and Vivian were the brides. Vivian lived in America with her husband and family.
In her loneliness, Mutt began to write to her. Writing the letters helped her connect to her past self, but she realized she should not mail them.So they piled up where she had hidden them in her desk.

 After the American came, she remembered them and asked Joss to find them. She didn't ask Joss to read them, but she couldn't resist. The letters told the entire story. Then she let Bruno know she had read them and that he needed to read them. They had determined Emma should never know, but things don't always play out as planned. 

Should You Read This Book?

If you like well-developed characters and the fun of unraveling family threads and motivations, you probably will enjoy The Golden Cup. But be ready to spend some time getting the characters sorted out. It's a bit confusing at first because there is a large cast of characters in Cornwall. They are all important to the plot. I'm glad I didn't let the beginning bog me down and discourage me from reading further. All in all it was a very satisfying book. I'd enjoying walking along the paths around Paradise to to Bruno's Lookout with Joss, Mousie, and Bruno. There are also a few romantic threads that have readers hoping they work out. 

The setting is gorgeous. It made me want to visit the Cornwall coast. It's obvious that all who live at Paradise, the family home, and on the rest of the family estate, love their land and the beauty around them. 

However some of the younger generation and Emma's husband, an outsider, would be willing to trade it for more wealth. That makes the legalities of everyone's identity important when Mutt finally dies and the search for her will ensues. Most agree on who should inherit what, but the real issue is the amount of inheritance tax. Everyone worries about what they might have to sell to pay the tax and who might lose their homes. 

As I read, I got to know a solid family bound together by shared history even where there was no blood connection. Even when the secret was exposed, it did not break their connection. Out of tragedy love survived, sacrificed, and nourished. And one wonders what would have happened if Madeleine had not become Honor.

the golden cup
Image by falco from Pixabay, modified

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. This sounds like a fascinating story, Barbara. I've read descriptions of Cornwall and know it to be very beautiful. One wonders what it would be like to live your life as someone else in order to survive. Your interesting review is an enticing lure to read this story.

    1. I've read many stories where people with amnesia lived for a long time without knowing who they really were. This is the first I've read where a person actually took the place of another person and never forgot who she used to be, with always the risk of being discovered.

  2. Sounds like an interesting family saga. I often enjoy these types of books. Thanks for the recommend.

    1. It's one of the best family sagas I've read. This is one of my favorite genres when done well. This one was very well written.

  3. This sounds like a gripping story for sure! No doubt, I would be concerned about their discovery throughout the entire book. It is interesting to think how sometimes deception is necessary for survival. How sad that Mutt how to cut all of her own blood family ties in order to save her daughter, her dear friends son, and herself. Your review makes me want to read the book immediately!

    1. I hope you will read it. I'm already rereading it and discovering things I missed the first time around. It's obvious the author thought the plot through well because every piece of it is important to the whole and the pieces are knit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

  4. I have no doubt that, like Sylvestermouse, I would constantly be worried as I read that their secret would be discovered. Yet, I have nothing but sympathy for Mutt and Bruno, in particular, and for the terrible choice that Mutt had to make - and the risk she had to take - to help her daughter, her close friend's son, and herself escape the anticipated violence in India and create a new life and safe harbor for them in Cornwall, Bruno's original home. Thank you for your helpful review and recommendation.

    1. Although Mutt is the primary character, we also are kept up to date on Bruno's thoughts. Most of the book concentrates on the adult lives of the characters and focuses on the period of Mutt's last illness. We see the result of years of togetherness living as a family. And we see stories within stories as each character faces separate challenges.

  5. Sounds like an excellent book. The story line of family characters, their relationship and life dramas always make a great read. I'm sure I would enjoy this book.

    1. I dare you to read the first hundred pages and try to put the book down. It doesn't read like a mystery, but you do keep wondering if and when and how the secret might be exposed and what will happen afterwards.

  6. Oh Barbara, this sounds like a book I could sink my teeth into. I love family sagas with all the twists and turns that happen in everyone's family history. And I get to travel some within the story. That is a winner for me! Thanks for this gripping review!

    1. Olivia, I'm convinced you would enjoy this one. Of the at least fifteen novels I read while my husband was down, this is the most memorable, the one that made me think the most. the one I wasn't tempted to rush through just to finish. I enjoyed all of the journey and didn't want the book to end.

  7. Cornwall is beautiful with really stunning scenery so a great setting for a novel.I love that the characters are well formed and interesting. It sounds a very captivating family saga. Thank you for the recommendation.

    1. I, too loved the setting. I'm never attracted to the cities, but this was set on a gorgeous coast. I checked a lot of pictures while I was reviewing this and I could imagine myself living there and having these characters as my neighbors and friends as I enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. The setting was as important as an additional character. It it helped form lifestyle of those who lived there.


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