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Review: Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

My Interest

I am a creature of habit–it comforts and sustains me. “Get back in your niche,” my brother once famously told me. He was so right. One habit I’ve developed is participating in Daphne Du Mauirer Reading Week. (Click the link to read all about it). I like reading her books and like even more reading them when others who value her talent are reading them, too. “Intentional” is the big word today, and this is one act of intentional reading that I enjoy.

This story–the Frenchman that is, brought Rhett Butler to mind, too!

The Story

SPOILERS! I rarely do this, but I’m not sure how else to present this book.

“…this was living, to smile and to be alone…”

“She knew that this was happiness, this was living as she had always wished to live.”

“I had become like a prisoner in chains, and the dungeon was deep.”

“…those who live a normal life, in this world of ours, are forced into habits, into customs, into a rule of life that eventually kills all initiative, all spontaneity…”

Married to a rather dim aristocrat whose eyes she like and who, at one time, amused her, has become stifling and dull to Dona (Lady St. Columb) so she takes herself, her two children and the nursemaid off to her husband’s seldom-visited country home in Cornwall. There are rumors of pirates!

William, the man servant, is a tad creepy (but he’s no male Mrs. Danvers). Dona and the children settle in, but she discovers a jar of tobacco unlike that used by her husband on the table beside her own bed. More intrigue follows as Dona gets out and about on her horse.

Eventually she meets the pirate and takes to him in a big way. In an adventure that must have come straight from her own childhood (and bored wifehood?) dreams, the Frenchman, as the pirate is known, leads her into a life of excitement.

My Thoughts

“It does happen, you know, from time to time, that a man finds a woman who is the answer to all his more searching dreams. And the two have understanding of each other, from the lightest moment to the darkest mood.”

I found this book to have just the right amount of darkness, just the right amount of excitement, and just enough dim aristocrats! Released during World War II when society was busy with “but tomorrow I could be dead” thoughts, the few very racy (for the times) scenes likely wouldn’t have been in print a few years earlier.

“Therefore I will shed no more tears, like a spoilt child. For whatever happens we have had what we have had. No one can take that from us. And I have been alive, who was never alive before.”

Du Maurier’s characters are always so believable and the atmosphere so real. I, too, fell for the Frenchman (why always the bad boy?). I felt sorry, though, for poor Harry–hapless, half-wit Harry (hmmm….sounds familiar somehow). He genuinely loved Dona and thought their life was great. He had his boorish Hooray Henry, chinless wonder, friends, his adorable doggie-woggies, and two sweet kids. HE was happy. But oh, that wife of his! (Again, how strangely familiar this sounds). But, even as I felt for dear Harry, I understood the suffocation Dona was living with and cheered her on.

I did wonder how much of the marital boredom was from Daphne’s own life. She was very independent and her husband, General Sir Frederick “Boy” (“Tommy” to the family) Browning was away a lot–it never seemed to bother her, from what I’ve read. Then he got sucked into service to the Royals and, well, that isn’t much of a marriage or family life except for the Royals. The wife of a courtier, while invited to Balmoral some years, isn’t all that it could be, now is it? Ask Mrs. Peter Townsend.

Back to our story. As for the Frenchman–was he like Rhett Butler? Not as much as I’d hoped, but still swoony and exciting. He was scads more attractive than dull old Harry.

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

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Dear Daph has a small role in the new novel, Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner! You can read my review here.

My Reviews of Other Daphne du Maurier books

(Du Maurier? du Maurier? DuMaurier????)

Mary Ann

The House on the Strand

Jamaica Inn

I do not have links to My Cousin Rachel (lost on my old blog) or Rebecca (read in the ’90s) or even to my favorite, The King’s General (lost on my old blog).

11 thoughts on “Review: Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one. I liked it a lot too when I first read it, and am hoping to fit in a revisit during the week with a tempting nonfic on female pirates that I have waiting on netgalley

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this one too and found it very atmospheric. All of her books have such a great sense of place. You could be right about the marital boredom – I often find that du Maurier puts a lot of her own life into her novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhh, I thought this was more of a historical novel (as in another Jamaica Inn style one), now I’m adding it to my “List of DdM books I can extract from Ali’s flat for upcoming Weeks” – hooray!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’m sorry, I read the note it was released during WWII and somehow made it into being set around then, too. Thank you for the clarification!

        Like

  4. I look forward to trying more books by Daphne du Maurier, and I will check out your links to your other review. How would you rank this one with other books by this author?

    Like

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