The Seal Cove by Helen Dunmore was published in 2001. It’s part of a trilogy, the others are The Lilac Tree and The Silver Bead which I’ve read. I just noticed when I started to read this one that my copy is signed by the author.
The setting is Cornwall, Katie and her mother had moved there after the death of her father and things are going quite well for them. Katie’s mother’s paintings have been taken on by a local art gallery, and they’re selling well.
But her best friend Zillah isn’t her normal self, unusually she won’t tell Katie what is wrong with her, but eventually it transpires that her parents are planning to turn their farm into an upmarket caravan park. Two men have been more or less grooming them and have told them that they will make a fortune, but they would have to get into a lot of debt to carry out the plans. Zillah knows that they will end up losing everything if they do as the men wish, and that they will snap up the farmland for themselves.
Zillah needs the help of Granny Carne, she’s a bit of a local wise-woman, or witch if you believe the rumours. “You go up to Granny Carne’s when you can’t see your way clear ahead.” But Katie is worried about meeting her.
This one is aimed at older children or young adults, but whether she was writing for children or adults, Helen Dunmore was such a talented writer, she’s another author who died too soon.
You can read her Guardian obituary here.