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Katherine Stansfield

The Visitor

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The horizon is a blue streak across the pale sea, giving the trick of land close enough to sail to. Pearl imagines a packet ship surging to another world with two passengers safe in the bows, their hands joined together.

Cornwall. 1880. Pearl, Jack and Nicholas play among the fishing boats of Skommow Bay, not understanding the undercurrents beneath their games. As they grow older, the choices they make shape the pattern of their lives.

1936 and everything has changed. The fish have stopped coming and the Pilchard Palace is abandoned. Pearl, exiled in favour of holidaymakers, turns to the memory of her great love, and her greatest loss. She’s waiting for her own visitor. Will he come for her?

The sea’s ghosts are stirring. The past can be more alive than the present...


The fictional village in which the novel is set is based on St Ives. The Visitor is a novel steeped in the coast and people of Cornwall. It shivers and flashes with visions as elusive as the fish at the centre of its story.

Intelligent women’s fiction, The Visitor will appeal to readers of Helen Dunmore, Hilary Mantel, Sarah Hall, and  Kate Morton.

Pearl, the novel’s protagonist, is based on Katherine’s great-aunt with whom Katherine lived before moving to university. She suffered from dementia and had difficulty distinguishing the past from the present, which caused her great distress, and writing the novel has helped Katherine to come to terms with this experience.


‘Katherine Stansfield's debut is a poignant and intricately crafted story of love and loss, picturesquely and memorably set on the sea-coast of Cornwall'. Stevie Davies


'An evocative record of a lost age... unmistakably heartfelt'. Daily Mail


Katherine Stansfield was born in 1983 and grew up on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. She moved to Wales in 2002 to study at Aberystwyth University where she now works as a lecturer in Creative Writing. She is also an associate member of the Institute of Cornish Studies at Exeter University. Her poetry has appeared in Cheval, the anthology of commended entries to the Terry Hetherington award for Young Writers. Her first book of poems, Playing House, will be published by Seren in 2014. The Visitor is her first novel.