Poppy has always loved Cornwall. So when her boyfriend Dan suggests they leave their office jobs and take over the Starfish Studio on the Isles of Scilly, Poppy doesn’t need asking twice.
But things don’t go to plan when Dan dumps her, weeks before they’re due to move. Determined not to give up, Poppy accepts the help of local photographer Jake, her landlord’s grandson. But Jake is distracted by a loss from his past.
Can they turn the crumbling gallery into a success in time for tourist season? And will a summer on the little Cornish Isles mend just the studio – or Poppy’s heart too?
The assistant wrapped the fused glass starfish coasters in tissue paper. ‘Beautiful choice,’ she said, clucking appreciatively. ‘The artist who made these is inspired by sea life on the beaches around St Piran’s, you know.’
Poppy smiled to herself. She knew that engaging with customers made the items they’d chosen seem personal. ‘Really? I thought I’d seen a starfish like these on the beach the other day,’ she said.
‘They’re certainly washed up from time to time,’ said the assistant, popping the tissue parcel in a paper bag. ‘Getting the ferry, are you, dear?’
‘Yes, but I think we’ve still got twenty minutes before it leaves?’
The assistant nodded sagely. ‘About that. Anyway, it’s only a minute to the harbour and you should hear it tooting from here as it pulls in. Your man’s thick as thieves with Archie at the moment. Why don’t you carry on having a look round? It’s cool in here on a hot day like this.’
Amused at Dan being referred to as her ‘man’, Poppy picked up her paper bag, which was surprisingly heavy, and smiled. ‘Thanks. I think I will.’
While she waited for Dan to finish his conversation, she drifted around the gallery again. There were many more things she could have bought but she’d already spent more than enough and even if she’d had the cash, there was a limit to the amount she could carry back on the small aircraft taking them home to the mainland. She was probably over the limit already.
She lingered in front of a small painting almost hidden in a niche next to a spiral staircase that was roped off with a sign marked ‘Private’. The painting was only six inches square but she instantly fell for it. It showed the studio from the outside, bunting flying, with a ginger cat – like the one by the till – curled up on the veranda. The picture was perhaps ‘cuter’ than the landscape scenes in the studio, but it captured the essence of the studio perfectly. There was no price on it, but judging by the figures for the larger pictures, she guessed it wouldn’t be cheap. The artist may have considered it too twee and deliberately tucked it away in a corner, but it was still a piece of original art and she wasn’t going to embarrass herself by asking the cost when she most likely couldn’t afford it.