A gentle shivering

Daphne du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek is the second of my recent piratical reads following on from the children's adventure The White Twilight. Frenchman's Creek belonged to my Mum and has been a long-term resident of the To-Be-Read shelf. This is quite odd as I've read most Daphne du Maurier's, and especially devoured the earlier ones - notably Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and The King's General.

Frenchman's Creek is a bit of a cross between all these novels - a touch of mystery, the Cornish landscape and a stately home, skulduggery on the high seas, and an historical setting. Just 10 years separate the four novels with Frenchman's Creek coming at the midway point. To be quite honest it is a bit of a disappointment. The story starts out promisingly enough, Dona St. Colomb is a wealthy woman living in London during the racy Restoration. Bored with her life in the city, she moves to the ancestral home of her husband in Cornwall seeking a new life. Restored by the Cornish climate, life changes dramatically for Dona when she meets a French pirate who has been terrorising the coast of Cornwall; but eventually Dona will have to choose between family life or life as a pirate's moll.

It's a sweet story, perhaps a little too sweet - at times it is distinctly saccharine, and owes far more to the world of Mills and Boon than Hitchcock's Rebecca. Having said which it's an enjoyable read; which also, surprisingly, made me think far more deeply about the changing lives of women in the twentieth century - I would suspect that Frenchman's Creek written 40 years later may have been a very different book.

If you're looking to read Du Maurier at her best however, this is one of her weaker novels. Go for Rebecca or Jamaica Inn first.


As you say, it's not typical - I think it's what those who haven't read her thinks she's like, if you see what I mean: she's a lot tougher in other books. But it is romantic and charming in its way.

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