Monday 27 July 2015

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

When the east wind blows up Helford river the shining waters become troubled and disturbed and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores. The short seas break above the bar at ebb-tide, and the waders fly inland to the mud-flats, their wings skimming the surface, and calling to one another as they go. 

Reissued in July 2015 by Virago Modern Classics 

Pages - 253
The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will relieve the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for a life of honest love - and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. Dona flees London for remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds there the passion her spirit craves - in the love of a daring pirate hunted across Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy.
Reviewed by Vivienne Dacosta

OK, so this isn't my favourite Daphne Du Maurier book, but it does now sit in my Top Three. With Jamaica Inn sitting pretty in the Number 1 spot, followed a close second by Rebecca, but with Frenchman's Creek, hanging a little way back in third place.

I have mixed emotions about this book. I loved parts and hated others.

I didn't understand the purpose of the first chapter at all. I think if this book were to be published for the first time now, then that chapter would be edited out, as it really didn't give anything to the story.

From then on, the book still took me a while to get into. In fact, I can't say I really enjoyed it until the Frenchman turned up. It was like I was reading the story in black and white, until Jean-Benoit arrived on the scene in brilliant technicolour, changing the whole tone and colour of the story. 

Once the book got going, it really felt like one of those romantic summer reads, where the heroine's eyes have finally been opened and she realises there is more to her than just being a wife and mother. She has finally been dragged out of the drudgery of her life. I really didn't like Lady Dona to begin with. This didn't help with my enjoyment of the story. She came across as a selfish, spoilt brat, but as her story unravelled, you realised how trapped she felt in her life. 

As soon as she meets the French pirate, Jean-Benoit Aubery, it is quite obvious that he will treat her as an equal. It's not surprising how quickly they fall for each other, as they are kindred spirits from the start. 

Du Maurier romanticised the idea of pirates, making them appear more desirable than any member of the English aristocracy. I'm positive that Du Maurier never intended for Jonny Depp to be visualised as the French pirate, but that was the only person I could envisage while reading it. His exaggerated swagger played a huge part in the story for me! 

So I enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first. I loved the sexual tension between the Frenchman and Lady Dona, as well as her feisty attitude when she joins him on the heist. I also loved the way Jean-Benoit constantly outwitted the fumbling aristocracy. 

In the end, you see a dramatic change in Lady Dona. She is finally at peace with her decisions about the future. She has learnt so much from her encounter with the Frenchman that she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness.

On the whole this is a good swashbuckling tale of love, lust and piracy. Ideal for fans of Elizabeth Von Armin's, The Enchanted April. 

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