Welcome to the Daphne Du Maurier Blog Tour
Having never read Daphne Du Maurier before, the brand new editions from Virago presented me with the perfect excuse to read a classic from her collection. I start with Frenchman’s Creek that was originally published in 1941.
Lady Dona St Columb was well known among the socialites of London. Any married woman who drank with her husband and his friends, surrounded by women of the night and wore britches to ride horses would be. She was bored with her life, bored of her adoring but useless husband and was doing all she could to keep her life interesting, but one day she went too far.
Both in shame and in search of escape, Dona left the fast-paced life of London behind and travelled with her two children to the home her husband grew up in and still owned, in rural Cornwall. Soon after arriving, she hears of a pirate that is stealing from the wealthy families of the area but instead of being scared for her life she laughs away the idea of any threat, hiding the facts from her husband so she can keep her new found sanctuary.
The only servant who stayed on while the house was empty was a young man called William. She finds him intriguing and when Dona sees him disappear into the woods one night, her interest is piqued. The next day she follows the path he treads to come across a creek, completely enclosed by trees and hiding the pirate ship she has been warned about. As she turns to disappear back amidst the trees, a stranger grabs her and before she knows it, she’s aboard the ship, where her life will change forever.
Reading Daphne Du Maurier for the first time, I came to this book expecting it to be good yet possibly slightly outdated. It was a joy to discover that she had crafted such a wonderfully confused feminist such as Dona that is relatable as any modern characters. Set in the mid-1600s feminism wasn’t exactly at its peak, so much so that many of the remarks made by some of the male characters are enough to make the blood boil, yet Dona rises above it all, usually responding without anger but with wit and sarcasm.
Dona steals the show throughout this novel but there are plenty of other superb characters, the pompous country noblemen, William the servant who is smart and funny, the children that adore their mother but also hold her back. All of them are crafted brilliantly, often with incredibly vivid descriptions that bring them to life.
To simplify and undersell The Frenchman’s Creek would be to describe it as a historical romance. It ticks those boxes but instead of normal romance that would normally repel me with cheesy lines, I was completely captivated. This is assisted by its fast pace and swashbuckling action, especially when Dona throws herself in just as much as the pirates themselves. This is a beautiful tale of the risks people take for love and the shackles of responsibility.
The Frenchman’s Creek has been a completely perfect introduction to Daphne Du Maurier, it has left me hungry for more and I look forward to delving into more of her work soon.
Buy Frenchman’s Creek by Daphna Du Maurier from Amazon here.