Some time ago I admitted on twitter my sudden craving for a novel involving a love affair with a pirate (yeah, I know, just bear with me). I wanted to avoid the bodice-ripping thing, so after a bit of a search, lo and behold, I discovered that Daphne du Maurier had written one! What I felt about Frenchman’s Creek is best said quoting Carol in As Good As it Gets: “What I needed, he gave me great.”

I’ll give you a taste of the plot, although I should have had you at “Daphne du Maurier” and “pirate”.

The story is set in 17th century Cornwall, where Lady Dona St. Columb seeks refuge from London’s shallow high society. She takes her two children with her and leaves her meek husband behind. The plan is to lead the simple life, but everything changes when she realizes that the Manor, which should have been inhabited for many years, had recently (and secretly) housed a special guest.

This guest turns out to be a notorious pirate who has terrorized the Cornish coast. What Dona discovers not long after is that the pirate is not the roguish, evil-doer that everyone imagines, but an art-loving, cultured Frenchman, with his own particular kind of honor.

(He’s a pirate AND he’s French AND he quotes poetry AND he draws seagulls and stuff!)

The prose is beautiful and du Maurier is perfect at mixing the swashbuckling plot, the inner turmoil that Dona goes through and her growing connection with the Frenchman. Frenchman’s Creek was written while du Maurier was away from her husband during his military service in WW2. It makes perfect sense: it’s an author’s romantic fantasy, but the author is Daphne du Maurier, so the result is deep and well crafted. The ending is also different from what you’d expect from the books with a half-naked seafarer in the cover, but it was perfect for Frenchman’s Creek and no less swoon-inducing.

I’d also like to recommend the audio version masterfully read by John Castle.

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Other thoughts: Giraffe Days, A Striped Armchair,  Devourer of Books, A lovely shore breeze…, Literate Housewife, Book Reviews by Bobbie, Bibliophile by the Sea,  The Tome Traveller’s Weblog, The Book Nest, Books Ahoy!

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