Frenchman’s Creek is a book I wanted to read last year. I even got it out of the library, very excited to have it in my hands, and then I never read it. It went back to the library unopened. A few weeks ago I decided to put it on hold and decided this would be the time I read it, and I did. And it was wonderful. It’s full of cold, rainy Cornwall days, French pirates, romance, and pillaging. What more could I want?
Lady Dona St. Columb is not one for high society although she is a fixture in London society. Always the most daring and outspoken one in the room, and mostly by choice, she tires of it all and take off for her husband’s country estate on the coast of Cornwall with only her children and a few servants in tow. She arrives at the dreary closed up home happy to finally be alone and out of London. She can’t stand the neighbors and does her best to make a few scenes to amuse herself but they reluctantly pester her to write to her husband and ask him to take care of the pirate who is raiding the coast. Not at all wanting to see her husband, she doesn’t bother with telling him the news but she does find she’s interested in finding out more about this pirate.
This book is certainly more romantic than the other du Maurier books I’ve read. Dona, a very selfish woman by all accounts, and even though she claims to care for her children, is happy to run off for days without seeing them. It’s all about her and what she wants. What she wants is the French pirate and that’s what she gets. I can’t say I blame her. I too pictured a lovely French pirate as well, but overall, Dona’s not an endearing person and not all that likable for her actions. Did I mention her leaving her children for days on end and she doesn’t even think about them while she’s gone. Oh, and she’s claiming this entire time that she’s a good parent. And, you guessed it; she’s also having an affair. If you didn’t guess that, my apologies, I didn’t mean to ruin that for you. Wipe that last sentence from your memory. But I came to like her anyway and especially at the end which I won’t be sharing.
The strong personalities in du Maurier’s books are amusing, entertaining, and full of passion of one kind or another — think Rebecca, Rachel, and add Dona to that list — and that’s what I like that about her characters. I don’t always like her characters but do like the surprises her sometimes selfish, mean, and cruel female characters can bring about.
Frenchman’s Creek has only made me want to read more of her books. My library has Jamaica Inn and that might be the next one on my list of du Maurier books to tackle. This one was a real pleasure.
By Daphne du Maurier
Source Books Landmark