Review – The Cornwall Sabbatical – Jonathan E. Cox

Author Jonathan Cox I have a lot in common, we were both born in Cornwall, we have both lived abroad for extended periods of time (though my time was perhaps less constructively spent), we both returned to education at, shall we say, a mature stage in our lives, and we both love where we are from.

Born in Penzance, Jonathan E. Cox spent many years as a Fleet Street journalist and international news agency correspondent before he felt compelled to return to Cornwall. He recently completed a postgraduate writing degree at Falmouth University with a first-class honours degree (distinction). The Cornwall Sabbatical is his first, but hopefully not last, book. To make ends meet as a writer, he also works as a consumer analyst.

Author shots taken for this year’s cohort of MA Professional Writing students, at the Lighthouse in Tannachie and in Rosehill Gardens on the 5th of May 2022. © Ellie Hope /Mayn Creative

Jonathan explains: “Cornish, I was born into a working-class family in Helston. I left Cornwall in my teens as there was little in the way of opportunity for young people. Covid triggered a reappraisal and I returned to Cornwall after living outside of the UK for over thirty years, first as a wire journalist and then as a financial analyst based in Zurich. I was blown away at the changes — lots of high-end cars, Michelin restaurants, gastro pubs, and loads of people on the beaches and in the water even in the darkest days of winter, something that rarely, if ever happened in my youth. More prosperous, there is more pride in place with Cornish flags everywhere and the Cornish recognised as a minority. But there is also a lot more homelessness and poverty with many people being left behind. A traditional way of life, particularly family social support structures, have disappeared.”

“I wanted to write about Cornwall in an entertaining and humorous way, covering serious issues, but not browbeating the reader. I look at some of the drivers of change as well as what is the ongoing move toward Cornwall’s greater independence with the UK. There are a lot of books about Cornwall — either overwhelmingly optimistic, dazzling as whitewashed fishermen’s cottages, or as bleak as some of the damp, bleak housing estates littering the inner peninsula. Not many are written by a Cornish author who tries to walk a middle ground. I never expected to write this book. It has become a labour of love dedicated to Cornwall, my first love.”

“Wry, humble, and compelling. The tales about Cornwall are well told and informative and weaved together by the journey of the protagonists who provide a poignant and very amusing narrative arc. Well written by a very good new author. I also had a walk on part in the book, which I always like as well.”

Helen Lederer — Comedy legend and author (Losing It)

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