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Frenchman's Creek

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Bored and restless in London's Restoration Court, Lady Dona escapes into the British countryside with her restlessness and thirst for adventure as her only guides.

Eventually Dona lands in remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds the passion her spirit craves in the love of a daring French pirate who is being hunted by all of Cornwall.

Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger and glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.

260 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 1941

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About the author

Daphne du Maurier

404 books8,248 followers
Daphne du Maurier was born on 13 May 1907 at 24 Cumberland Terrace, Regent's Park, London, the middle of three daughters of prominent actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and actress Muriel, née Beaumont. In many ways her life resembles a fairy tale. Born into a family with a rich artistic and historical background, her paternal grandfather was author and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier, who created the character of Svengali in the 1894 novel Trilby, and her mother was a maternal niece of journalist, author, and lecturer Comyns Beaumont. She and her sisters were indulged as a children and grew up enjoying enormous freedom from financial and parental restraint. Her elder sister, Angela du Maurier, also became a writer, and her younger sister Jeanne was a painter.

She spent her youth sailing boats, travelling on the Continent with friends, and writing stories. Her family connections helped her establish her literary career, and she published some of her early work in Beaumont's Bystander magazine. A prestigious publishing house accepted her first novel when she was in her early twenties, and its publication brought her not only fame but the attentions of a handsome soldier, Major (later Lieutenant-General Sir) Frederick Browning, whom she married.

She continued writing under her maiden name, and her subsequent novels became bestsellers, earning her enormous wealth and fame. Many have been successfully adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn, and the short stories The Birds and Don't Look Now/Not After Midnight. While Alfred Hitchcock's films based upon her novels proceeded to make her one of the best-known authors in the world, she enjoyed the life of a fairy princess in a mansion in Cornwall called Menabilly, which served as the model for Manderley in Rebecca.

Daphne du Maurier was obsessed with the past. She intensively researched the lives of Francis and Anthony Bacon, the history of Cornwall, the Regency period, and nineteenth-century France and England. Above all, however, she was obsessed with her own family history, which she chronicled in Gerald: A Portrait, a biography of her father; The du Mauriers, a study of her family which focused on her grandfather, George du Maurier, the novelist and illustrator for Punch; The Glassblowers, a novel based upon the lives of her du Maurier ancestors; and Growing Pains, an autobiography that ignores nearly 50 years of her life in favour of the joyful and more romantic period of her youth. Daphne du Maurier can best be understood in terms of her remarkable and paradoxical family, the ghosts which haunted her life and fiction.

While contemporary writers were dealing critically with such subjects as the war, alienation, religion, poverty, Marxism, psychology and art, and experimenting with new techniques such as the stream of consciousness, du Maurier produced 'old-fashioned' novels with straightforward narratives that appealed to a popular audience's love of fantasy, adventure, sexuality and mystery. At an early age, she recognised that her readership was comprised principally of women, and she cultivated their loyal following through several decades by embodying their desires and dreams in her novels and short stories.

In some of her novels, however, she went beyond the technique of the formulaic romance to achieve a powerful psychological realism reflecting her intense feelings about her father, and to a lesser degree, her mother. This vision, which underlies Julius, Rebecca and The Parasites, is that of an author overwhelmed by the memory of her father's commanding presence. In Julius and The Parasites, for example, she introduces the image of a domineering but deadly father and the daring subject of incest.

In Rebecca, on the other hand, du Maurier fuses psychological realism with a sophisticated version of the Cinderella story. The nameless heroine has

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,938 reviews
Profile Image for Katie.
414 reviews4 followers
October 26, 2011
Loved this book.

It had pirates.

It had Frenchmen.

It had a love story.

It had intrigue.

It had scandal.

It had clean language.

It had beautiful writing.

It's a great read.

Profile Image for Candi.
623 reviews4,717 followers
April 3, 2017
"Do you remember my father’s aviary in Hampshire, and how the birds there were well fed, and could fly about their cage? And one day I set a linnet free, and it flew straight out of my hands towards the sun?... Because I feel like that. Like the linnet before it flew."

If you’ve ever felt confined, if you’ve ever felt like just throwing all caution to the wind and escaping, then you can empathize with Dona St. Columb, the heroine of this delightful adventure! Now, I know what you are thinking, because I had the same exact thought… what’s up with a pirate story from the brilliant creator of Rebecca?! Well, I would say first and foremost, that you can’t compare this to Rebecca, as they can’t all be masterpieces. However, it is worthy of its own unique praise. It’s more lighthearted, yes, but I don’t think everything has to be so somber all the time. In fact, this book may be a more high-spirited read, but certainly it still causes one to pause and reflect.

Dona is married to a titled landowner in 17th century England. She is a mother and adores her children. Given the time and place, however, Dona is bound by societal restrictions and the expectations placed on the women of her time. Dona does not adapt well to these boundaries, however, and decides to escape London and relocate with her children and nurse to her husband’s home on the Cornwall coast. Her husband, Harry, is left behind to continue with his diversions in the city. Harry doesn’t really ‘get it’. He’s a bit clueless but not a brute, so we can tolerate him.

"… in reality it was escape she wanted, escape from her own self, from the life they led together; that she had reached a crisis in her particular span of time and existence, and must travel through that crisis, alone."

Upon reaching the coast, Dona soon hears the whispers of the rumor of piracy. And so her adventure begins, as does ours. In true du Maurier fashion, the landscape is spectacularly drawn and the Helford River and Frenchman’s Creek become almost entities of their own. You can hear the wind and the crashing waves, the cry of the birds; and you can envision the bluebells and the mysterious painted ship. Dona must struggle with her new-found freedom, her understanding of love, and reconcile these feelings with her sense of responsibility and love for her children. Not an easy battle for a woman and a mother’s conscience today, much less in the 1600’s!

I couldn’t imagine how this would end, and you of course will need to read the book to find out. All I can say is that du Maurier always manages to execute her endings perfectly. Read this for the witty banter between Dona and her manservant, William (whom I adored), for the intriguing character that is the Frenchman, for the comical gentry that Dona finds so stodgy, and for the thrill of the high seas. But, most of all, you should read this for the beautiful prose and the nostalgic feel of times gone by. I loved it for the sheer entertainment and joy I felt while reading this. It may not be transformative, but it is captivating and enchanting.

"Contentment is a state of mind and body when the two work in harmony, and there is no friction. The mind is at peace, and the body also. The two are sufficient to themselves. Happiness is elusive – coming perhaps once in a life-time – approaching ecstasy."
Profile Image for Julie .
4,079 reviews59k followers
August 30, 2017
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier is a 2003 publication. (This novel was originally published in 1941)

Adventurous and unique side of Daphne du Maurier-

Bored in her marriage, Dona heads to her husband Harry’s estate in Cornwall for some time to herself. Right away, she becomes embroiled in the adventure of the pirate 'Jean-Benoit Aubéry.' She dares to let her true nature emerge, wearing men’s clothes, and joining in the intrigue and a little romance.

However, her fun is often foiled by Rockingham- a friend of her husband, who is determined to capture the pirates, while harboring designs on Dona of his own.

Meanwhile, Harry arrives to help Rockingham, which inspired Dona to intervene on behalf of her pirate, but… it’s complicated.


This is yet another fantastic story by Daphne du Maurier. While the setting is in Cornwall, the oft chosen location for moody Gothic tales, this book has an entirely different tone.

At once an adventure, a romance, a literary endeavor, this book embodies a hint of styles and genres to come.

Dona has come to Cornwall for some serious soul searching, but she got the adventure of a lifetime for a woman of the aristocracy in the 18th century.

Although, she takes some enormous risks, throws caution to the wind, and finds just what she needs to quicken her monotonous life, she also must consider the cost.

It’s hard not to like Dona. She’s spirited, bold, and rebellious, thirsting for more from life, but trapped in a dull marriage, and bored with the aristocratic life she is bound to. Before all is said and done, she lives through some tense and suspenseful adventures, which on the surface is like reading a swashbuckling pirate tale, replete with romance and intrigue.

The pirate in question, is a bit of a romantic for a man of his occupation and is just the type of ‘bad boy’ Dona might go for considering her feelings for her husband.
In some ways, it sounds like this is a torrid historical romance, but I assure you this is more of a literary novel, written in a beautiful lush prose.

While the story is lightest du Maurier book I’ve read, and was actually a fun, sort of scandalous novel, there is a moral reckoning, if you will, and Dona’s character ends up going through some startling changes, coming out on the other side a very different person from the one we were first introduced to, and has its fair share of serious tones and profound insights, especially the allegorical messages, which speak to how women often feel confined by certain strictures, but who long to be as free as men, but who must often make the hard choices and sacrifices that rob them of that pleasure.
‘are you happy?"

"I am content."

"What is the difference?"

"Between happiness and contentment? Ah, there you have me. It is not easy to put into words. Contentment is a state of mind and body when the two work in harmony, and there is no friction. The mind is at peace, and the body also. The two are sufficient to themselves. Happiness is elusive--coming perhaps once in a life-time--and approaching ecstasy."

"Not a continuous thing, like contentment?"

"No, not a continuous thing. But there are, after all, degrees of happiness.”

The ending is a bittersweet surprise , but still very fitting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel so, I’d like to send a special shout out to GR friend, Candi, who recommended this one to me!!

4 stars
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
July 14, 2019
A romantic, swashbuckling type of tale from the talented Daphne du Maurier that, unfortunately, fell flat for me. Lady Dona St. Columb is a noblewoman in 17th century England, discontented with her husband, family, the British court, and pretty much everything in her life. She takes out her frustrations on everyone around her and then flounces off to her husband's estate in Cornwall to rusticate and make the people around her miserable there instead.

There are stories of a pirate who's been raiding the Cornish countryside, and Dona could be in trouble when she stumbles across the pirate ship's hiding place in a cove ... right on her estate! But it's romance, not danger, that mostly ensues in this rather dreamily written novel (in fairness, the excitement and adventure ramp up later in the novel, before we get to a rather odd ending).

Du Maurier writes well, but this book was just not for me. My problems with it are mostly tied to my own personal reading likes and dislikes, rather than an objective assessment of the book's qualities. In other words, your mileage may vary.

The main character, Dona, is a spoiled, selfish, headstrong woman, dismissive of her spouse and children. The first scene she's in shows her being unreasonable and rude to her servants. As I got deeper into the book I liked her a little better (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I disliked her a little less) as I came to understand her frustrations, but she's not the type of woman I identify with, or want to get to know better, either in real life or in a book. Dislikable protagonists are a tough one for me to swallow.

I also have a really deep aversion to cheating on your spouse, which includes reading romances where one of the main characters is cheating, and I'm not big on justifications (he's a louse, she doesn't understand me, etc.). Dona married a guy who's a drinker and apparently as dumb as a box of rocks, but he loves her, wants to make something better of their marriage and is willing to try to change, and she won't give him the time of day. Instead she takes up with ...

The pirate, who is handsome, well-read and independently wealthy, but justifies his piracy because he's a Robin Hood, stealing from the unworthy rich and giving to the poor. Huh. I'm pretty good at suspending disbelief, but this was all just a little too unrealistic to buy into. He admits that he just needs adventure to bring meaning to his humdrum life. I can respect that, but hey, go explore Africa or something rather than becoming a criminal.

In general, this reads to me like an unhappily married woman's fantasy of how she'd like to ditch her boring and unfulfilling husband and existence and go off on romantic adventures. From what I've read of Daphne du Maurier's life, I think that's likely the case. I just couldn't respect the characters or their choices.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,620 reviews988 followers
February 13, 2021
I. Am. Shook. I had no expectation or idea of this book, as I never read book blurbs and haven't seen any of the adaptations. But seriously ... decadence; such a free-spirited but self aware female protagonist; a creek of wonder; one of the best butlers in fiction; antagonist that are fully realised and multifaceted and... piracy.... yep, I said it, this book has pirates!

How did this book make me feel?
From the moment I was presented with Lady Dona St Columb and her highly unconventional approach to life, especially as a woman of the 17th century, I couldn't get enough of her. It was such a joy to read of a women character from before the 20th century who isn't a linear stereotype. I also enjoyed the considerable multi-faceted characterisations given to some of the cast, especially to Lady Dona's husband. A book that initially comes across as an unconventionally, mostly interesting. but obvious illicit romance morphs into something a lot more. It feels like a coming of adult-age story. Most of all, and I need to make this clear, it is an utterly wonderful rip roaring adventure, one that I read in two days, as I genuinely couldn't put it down. 9.5 out of 12.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews492 followers
July 20, 2022
Frenchman's Creek is the third book I read of Daphne du Maurier following My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca . And naturally, I expected a mystery. But I was really surprised to find that Frenchman's Creek is an adventure story.

Du Maurier presents us with a female protagonist as unlike any other so far I have come across her books. Dona St. Columb is a wild and reckless woman whose spirit seeks action and adventure. Her mundane aristocratic life which is wasted in idle occupation does not suit her well. She seeks to escape and arrive at her family estate in Helston and there meets Jean-Benoit Aubery, a French pirate. He quenches her thirst for adventure and in the process, she learns what it means truly to be in love.

Frenchman's Creek is an adventure story as well as a beautiful love story. Dona St. Columb is not a likable character in the beginning. But soon this Dona takes a different shape of a woman. The newfound freedom from the senseless life she was so far lived brings out her true self. In the French pirate she meets, she finds a soul mate who equals her thirst for adventure; with him, she finds love, happiness, and true contentment in life and learns what is important in life. I really liked the character development of Dona St. Columb. With her, Du Maurier has created a loving female protagonist, and certainly the best I have come in a Du Maurier book so far.

I liked both parts of the story; the adventure and the romance. The adventure is well written and it was a thrilling read. The romance is beautiful. It is mature and fulfilling; both parties are respectful and honourable. I loved the ending where the author part the lovers physically but unites them spiritually. Dona being duty-bound to her children had to give up his lover physically but their souls are forever united. It was one of the sweetest endings that I have read quite a while in a book. It simply warmed my heart.

Du Maurier's writing here is remarkable. There are two colours and tones with which she writes the adventure and the romance. The adventure part consists of bold and daring writing which keeps the reader in suspense and the romance is written with a tenderness that warms the reader’s heart. It is an amazing mix and was extremely pleasing.

Frenchman's Creek is such a beautiful book and it really surprises me why this book has received less attention. It is a book worth recognition. To me personally, it is the best of Du Maurier that I have read so far.
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews533 followers
May 17, 2017
Suddenly the sails caught the breeze and filled, they bellied out in the wind, lovely and white and free, the gulls rose in a mass, screaming above the masts, the setting sun caught the   painted ship in a gleam of gold, and silently, stealthily, leaving a long dark ripple behind her, the ship stole in towards the land.  And a feeling came upon Dona, as though a hand touched her heart, and a voice whispered in her brain, “I shall remember this.”  A premonition of wonder, of fear, of sudden strange elation.  She turned swiftly, smiling to herself for no reason, humming a little tune, and strode back across the hills to Navron House, skirting the mud and jumping the ditches like a child, while the sky darkened, and the moon rose, and the night wind whispered in the tall trees.

This is the story of a woman, Lady Dona St. Columb, grown jaded by a life of privilege in restoration period London, who leaves her husband’s side and flees with her children and their governess to the countryside and their rarely visited home, Navron House, on the coast of Cornwall.  And it is there that she first hears the tales of piracy and catches sight of “La Mouette” as she looks out to sea, from the cliffs, where the river runs away to the left, wide and shining as it meets the sea.  And it is here that she first meets the Frenchman and embracing danger, escapes the tedium of her London life,  with a daring, romantic adventure on the high seas.  

Anyone at all familiar with Du Maurier’s style is well aware of how masterfully she can paint a scene, at once  so vivid, as to transport the reader to those same cliffs, where Dona stands, and down below, far and deep, the little waves splash upon the rocks.

Reading this one cannot help but think that one day, Du Maurier decided to take her considerable writing skills out for a walk, urging them forward, bidding them stretch their legs, and once they had reached their stride and adopted a working rhythm, she let them loose to wander and sniff out their own path.   I love where they went.

In fact this is the second time I have accompanied Du Maurier on this audacious, romantic escape to the coast of Cornwall and her ship of dreams.  I really have no business reading this right now as I am still besieged with other commitments, but sometimes the reader’s heart wants what the reader’s heart wants and nothing else will sate that need.  

Lately I have been reading a fair number of reviews of Du Maurier’s work here on goodreads, most notably, Candi’s review of this same story:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... which has resulted in two things; one of which is this reread as well as the addition of Jamaica Inn to my Kindle queue.  

Come on, sail away.

Five pure escape worthy stars!
Profile Image for leynes.
1,116 reviews3,035 followers
July 5, 2023
Ummm... I don't know what so say. I am bamboozled. Frenchman's Creek is the 40s equivalent to 21st century pirate smut, I'm not even shitting you. I wanted to read more from Daphne du Maurier because I fell in love with Rebecca last year and couldn't get enough of her beautiful prose, but I was NOT prepared for a historical romance novel about an impulsive English lady and a hunky French pirate. I'm not one to kink shame (I see you, friends, who've given this book 5 stars) but miss thang truly popped off. To each their own I guess.

Frenchman's Creek, published in 1941, is set in Cornwall during the reign of Charles II. It tells of the love affair between Dona (Lady St. Columb) and Jean-Benoit-Aubéry (rich man turned pirate). And Dona is the typical protagonist for any romance/smut novel. She's a mom BUT not a regular mom. She's not like other moms, okay? She is bored by motherhood, bored by her husband, and disgusted with the shallow rich high life they lead in London court society. Cry me a river, chile. Dona is the most privileged of all privileged women, yet cannot stop seeing herself as the victim. She says things like "Forget all these [material] things, because this was freedom, to stand here for one minute with her face to the sun and the wind, this was living, to smile and to be alone." and forgets that she is literally the most financially secure woman in all of Navron, she can go wherever she pleases, and do whatever she wants.

I'm sorry to break it to ya, Dona, but you're annoying as heck. Her character is kinda awkward to read because it's pretty clear that she's a self-insert, and that du Maurier was fantasizing about being abducted by a pirate who would make wild love to her on his ship. Du Maurier is also out here trying her hardest to make Dona come across as edgy and not like other girls, and it's truly horrifying. During one of her "wild adventures" in London, she dresses up like a man and plays a "prank" on an old Countess... the prank being Dona threatening the Countess with rape or robbery ("A hundred guineas or your honour."). Hahaha, this is SO funny, right?? I think the fuck not. Privileged white women need to be stopped.

Anyways, because Dona can't stand London high society anymore, she moves with her children to Cornwall (begging her husband to stay in London, lmao)... however, she sees no problem in moving into her husband's large estate in Navron. She loves reaping the benefits of this marriage whilst at the same time pretending she's above it all. ANYWAYS, her husband's estate has been uninhabited for years bc that's rich people doing rich people shit for you, and unknown to the family, it is being used by a notorious French pirate who has been terrorising the Cornish coast.

Umm, yeah, read that last sentence again. Yup, you read that right. I don't know where du Maurier got that idea with the pirate from but she sure had a thing for roguish men. Dona, of course, can't help herself but start a tumultuous and passionate love affair with this pirate whom she doesn't know at all. Of course he is much more cultured, interesting and educated than her boring ole rich husband. With much pining and lots of back and forth, they fall madly in love with each other.

Their romance, tumultuous as it is, was HELLA FUNNY to read about. Due to the time it was written in, du Maurier couldn't include an explicit sex scene but she tried her hardest to make her readers understand that there is SExuAl TeNsiOn between these two. When Dona and the pirate first meet, he flings her over his shoulder, speaks to her in French and grinned. And then "She watched him furtively, aware of sudden shyness and hating herself for it, she, Dona, who was never shy, who cared for nothing and for no one." I mean, what is this, AFTER???

Jean-Benoit Aubéry is described as: "He was tall, much taller than she had imagined – and into his dark eyes came a look surely of recognition, like a sudden flame, and he smiled slowly, as if in secret." OKAY, guess tall men have always been in fashion.

It comes to the point where Dona is ready to risk it all and leave her family behind (because who cares about their own children, right?), and she decides to join Aubéry's pirate crew DRESSED AS A BOY. I can't make that shit up. Modern day fanfic writers, take notes! It's also so fucking funny because when looking into the face of her two year old son, Dona thinks: "He would no doubt grow up to be fat, and gross, and unattractive, making some woman miserable." I MEAN GURLLLL???? ARE YOU OKAY??? Who says that about anyone, let alone their own children? She's outta her goddamn mind.

What really annoyed me about Dona's decision to leave her family and play boy on a pirate ship, are several things: 1) She says to her servant: "I wish I were a man, William." – which undermines that du Maurier wanted to make some pseudo-feminist statement through Dona's actions, and it goes horribly wrong, because Dona is the most privileged, self-righteous, annoying as besh to ever exist. Also, why would her servant care about her silly little struggles??? That man is not payed enough. Anyways, 2) She says to her servant: "Your master is right, William. We are all cogs in a wheel, and mothers most especially. It is only the pirates who are free." First of all, HOW CHEESY IS THAT? Second of all, GURL YOU LITERALLY HAVE A NURSE WHO BRINGS UP YOUR CHILDREN. You don't do shit. You never fulfilled any "motherly duties", it was all your nurse???? So what's YOUR fucking problem? And 3) and most importantly: she let's her children believe that she is dying of a fever, then instructs her servant William to not let anyone enter her (empty) room. WHO DOES THAT??? Why would you traumatise your kids bc you wanna play wife with a pirate? What is WRONG WITH YOU?

The crew goes out on an expedition to capture a richly laden merchant ship belonging to one of Dona's neighbors (whom she detests)... because "EAT THE RICH while constantly denying that you're rich af as well", right? The lead up to the expedition also gives us this stellar dialogue:
“You think yourself brave enough now, no doubt, but if you came face to face with a pirate I dare star you would shiver and swoon, like the rest of your sex.”
“I would certainly shiver.”
KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS, DONA! Aubéry also teaches her how to navigate his ship (UGHHHH the tropes are just too real) and when he wants to help her she's all like "No, I can do it myself." SHOVE THAT FEMINISM UP YOUR ASS, YOU CANNOT STIR A SHIP WITHOUT GUIDANCE. But of course Dona is a natural at everything bc she's a fucking superwoman. It's giving Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner.

Whilst on the ship "She felt like an intruder, a silly woman amongst a lot of men who had work to do…" – UGHHH it's giving Bella with the Quileute. Also Aubéry won't allow her (??what's up with that??) to cut her hair to look like a cabin boy ... because of course female beauty standards must be upheld, even in life or death situations. Great.

MOVNG ON, Dona and Aubéry's EMBARAZZING Robin Hood mission turns to shit bc even though the expedition was a success (and Dona wakes up in the Frenchman's bed NAKED – the scandal!), the news of it bring Dona's concerned husband Lord Harry to Navron. The last thing Dona wanted because miss thang doesn't like being held accountable for her actions. And I get that du Maurier tried to frame Harry as the undesirable fool but I felt kinda sorry for him. Dona is such an asshole to him, doesn't communicate with him at all, cheats behind his back, and yet du Maurier frames it as if Harry is the intruder... it's HIS fucking estate, for God's sake. And then she hits us with "Poor Harry, he would never understand..." ... well, how about you try him?
“Oh, damme,” he said. “I don’t know what I think. I only know I’d give everything in the world to make you happy, but the cursed trouble is I don’t know how to, and you are fonder of James’s finger-nail than you are of me. What’s a fellow to do when his wife doesn’t love him but drink and play cards. Can you tell me that?”
ISSA TRAGEDY, HONEY. Anyways, to add "insult to injury", Harry didn't go to Navron by himself, he brought Rockingham, slime ball turned predator, with him. They alongside the locals want to capture the big bad pirate now. Guess what? It doesn't work. Instead, Aubéry pulls a 180 on them, captures and robs them instead.
“Why did you come here then?”
“Because, as in all my undertakings, the most hazardous performance is usually the most successful. besides, I had not kissed you for nearly twenty-four hours.” And he bent his head, and took her face in his hands.
During the robbery, Rockingham perceives that Aubéry and Dona have been fucking for a while now, and because he's an absolute SHITHEAD, he decides to attack Dona in a jealous rage. What then ensues not even Stephenie Meyer could've pulled off but DONA ACTUALLY KILLS Rockingham in self-defense. I shit you not. Our heroine is now a murderer. Love that for her.

Meanwhile, Aubéry is captured while trying to return to his ship and imprisoned. Dona being the good dutiful lover that she is PLOTS HIS PRISON BREAK. (At this point, as you can imagine, the plot is off the rails. There's no saving du Maurier. We are in this together, children.) The prison break is successful (because of course it is) but du Maurier hits us with the TRAGIC TRAGIC ending of Dona realising that she must remain with her husband and children and can't go off with the hot French pirate into the sunset (aka his huge real estate in France bc turns out the "pirate" was rich all along).

It's a wild ride, that's for sure! So if you're interested in 40s pirate smut about a GIRL WHO IS NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS and a tall, dark, hunky pirate, Frenchmen's Creek is the book for you. Run to your next local bookstore NOW!

Favorite quote: "Sir Harry would not have passed into your room, my lady," William said, "he must have slain me first." -> WILLIAM IS TRULY THE BEST. Amidst all the DELUSION, my man truly came through. Favorite character for sure! Also, what's up with me and loving all the servant characters in old-timey books? Welp, guess I'm not like other girls. ;))
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
September 2, 2020
4+ Stars. Daphne du Maurier brings her true love of boating and the sea to life in this most enjoyable 17th century atmospheric tale of swashbuckling fun.

The excitement begins soon after Lady Dona leaves London society.....and her (foolish) baronet husband.....for their country home and a much needed respite away from everyday boredom and a loveless marriage.

With two children and nanny in tow, Dona is finally free to avail herself of sun and solace with long walks in the woods and thoughts of a younger self in a time long past when an unexpected encounter.....with a notorious and most appealing pirate.....give her life new meaning.

FRENCHMAN'S CREEK is an intriguing adventure story with dangerous escapades and just the right touch of emotion and romance amidst great characters.....and no, it's not My Cousin Rachel or Rebecca, but it's still a damn entertaining read!

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews37 followers
June 18, 2021
Frenchman's Creek, Daphne du Maurier

Frenchman's Creek is a 1941 historical novel by Daphne du Maurier.

Dona, Lady St. Columb, makes a sudden visit with her children to Navron, her husband's remote estate in Cornwall, in a fit of disgust with her shallow life in London court society.

There she finds that the property, unoccupied for several years, is being used as a base by a notorious French pirate who has been terrorising the Cornish coast.

Dona finds that the pirate, Jean-Benoit Aubéry, is not a desperate character at all, but rather a more educated and cultured man than her own doltish husband, and they fall in love.

Dona dresses as a boy and joins the pirate crew on an expedition to cut out and capture a richly laden merchant ship belonging to one of her neighbours.

The attack is a success, but the news of it brings Dona's husband Harry and his friend Rockingham to Cornwall, disrupting her idyllic romance.

Harry, Rockingham, and the other locals meet at Navron to plot how to capture the pirate, but Aubéry and his crew cleverly manage to capture and rob their would-be captors instead.

Rockingham, who has had designs on Dona himself, perceives the relationship between her and Aubéry, and Dona is forced to kill him in self-defence when he attacks her in a jealous rage.

Meanwhile, Aubéry is captured while trying to return to his ship, and Dona hatches a plot for his release.

In the end, ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش سال 2007میلادی

عنوان: دون‍ا؛ ن‍وی‍س‍ن‍ده‌ داف‍ن‍ه‌ دوم‍وری‍ه‌؛ م‍ت‍رج‍م‌ ف‍ری‍دون‌ ح‍اج‍ت‍ی‌؛ با مقدمه عباس آریانپورکاشانی؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌‏‫: س‍م‍ی‍ر؛ 1385؛ در 270ص؛ شابک 9646552986؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ چاپ سوم 1389؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

عنوان: ساحل فرانسوی؛ نویسنده دافنه دموریه؛ مترجم خجسته کیهان؛ تهران: بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب پارسه‏‫، 1399؛ در 150ص؛ شابک 9786002537119؛

داستان «دونا» زنی نامدار و ثروتمند است، البته نامداریش بیشتر برای تقلید رفتارهای مردانه ایشان است؛ «دونا» نقش زنان همتراز خود را نمیپذیرد، و احساس میکند، در چنگال همسری ابله اسیر شده است؛ او نمیتواند درک کند، چرا بیان احساسات، برای زنان قدغن است، و چرا یک زن اجازه ندارد، ماجراجویی کند؛ سرانجام «دونا» از سرگرمیهای خویش خسته، و برای فرار، به ویلایی دور افتاده در املاکش، سفر میکند، بی آنکه بداند یک «دزد دریایی»، در نزدیکی ساحل املاکش به سر میبرد؛ «دونا» در ماجراهایی با همان «دزد دریایی»، که «فرنچمن» نام دارد، آشنا، و میفهمد «فرنچمن» نیز همانند او، از دنیای ساختگی دور و بر خویش، خسته شده، و هدفش از دزدی، نه ثروت اندوزی، که ماجراجویی است؛ «دونا» به «فرنچمن» علاقه پیدا میکند، و در یک دزدی، با او همراه میگردد؛ سپس میخواهد با او فرار کند، اما در پایان، دلش رضا نمیدهد، و یک مادر و همسر باقی میماند

نقل: (کشتی مرد دریانورد و جهانگردی به نام «فِرِنچمَن»، در نزدیکی آنجا لنگر انداخته بود، و «گودِلفین» و دوستانش با آنها دشمن بودند؛ «دونا» با گذشت زمان متوجه شد «فرنچمن»، جهانگرد شجاعی است، که به او و افرادش، به دروغ و از روی ریا، «دزد و چپاولگر» لقب داده‌ اند؛ پس در یکی از مأموریت‌های «فرنچمن» شرکت کرد؛ بعد از آن «هری» و پسرخاله اش «روکینگهام» به «نافرن» آمدند، و جلسه‌ ای تشکیل دادند، تا علیه افراد «فرنچمن» نقشه بکشند؛ از قضا «فرنچمن» به آنها حمله کرد، و «روکینگهام» را کشت، اما خودش دستگیر شد؛ «ویلیام» هم که قبلاً خدمتکار «فرنچمن» بود، به «گویک» رفت؛ «دونا» که از اختلافهای خانوادگی اش خسته شده بود، به «هری» گفت همراه بچه ها به «هامتون» برود، و منتظرش باشد، تا او هم روز بعد به آنها بپیوندد، تا همگی در صلح و صفا زندگی کنند؛ پس از رفتن «هری» و بچه ها، «دونا» نزد «ویلیام» رفت؛ «ویلیام» گفت که می‌خواهد به دیدن «فرنچمن» برود، و تپانچه‌ ای به وی بدهد، بلکه بتواند فرار کند...)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/03/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,488 reviews842 followers
June 22, 2021
‘Oh, he is that sort of pirate, then?’ murmured Dona.

‘No lives have been lost as yet, and none of our women have been taken,’ said Godolphin stiffly, ‘but as this fellow is a Frenchman we all realise that it is only a question of time before something dastardly occurs.’

Oh, I do hope so! This is perfect escapism, historical romance with elements of a thriller. There’s a bit of chest-thumping and derring-do between the French pirates of Brittany and the wealthy landowners of Cornwall across the Channel.

Lady St Columb is a lively young woman of 29 with two children and a boring husband whose great love is drinking and playing cards with friends. She is more inclined to dress up in disguise and gallop around wreaking havoc just for the heck of it. Obviously, we like her and wouldn’t give Sir Harry St Columb the time of day. So why did she marry him?

‘Harry was amusing,’ she said, ‘and I liked his eyes.’

She is no longer amused. To escape Harry and the confines of London, she takes the children and their nanny to the long-vacant family estate, Navron House, along a river in Cornwall, a river deep enough for big sailing ships to anchor, hidden from view. (One might say perfect for pirates, if one didn't mind getting ahead of oneself.)

The book opens with a present-day yachtsman rowing up a creek off the river, an atmospheric introduction to the area.

“He ventures a little way along the left bank of the creek, the sound of the blades upon the water seeming over-loud and echoing oddly amongst the trees on the farther bank, and as he creeps forward the creek narrows, the trees crowd yet more thickly to the water’s edge, and he feels a spell upon him, fascinating, strange, a thing of queer excitement not fully understood.
. . .
And now his heart begins to beat, and he strains at his paddles, and the little dinghy shoots swiftly over the dark water away from enchantment, for what he has seen is not of his world, and what he has heard is beyond his understanding.”

Of course, he’s paddling towards Navron House, through the mysterious mood that still lingers from the colourful history we are now enticed to read.

We go back in time to see Dona galloping there in a coach with her children. She arrives at a country manor, empty except for William, “a thin, spare little man, with a button mouth and a curiously white face.”

The place is dusty and in need of attention, but William explains that since nobody comes there, he hasn’t bothered with cleaning.

This is one of those lady-of-the-manor stories where you have to accept that somehow staff appears to clean and cook. There is no mention of how or from where they are acquired, but food appears as needed, clothes are cleaned as required, the children are kept content by their nanny.

She would rather avoid the neighbours, people she’s never admired, especially one particularly unattractive fellow.

“Would Harry become like this if he lived at Navron? A great turnip, with eyes that said nothing, and a mouth like a slit in a suet pudding.”

The Frenchman, on the other hand, is different.

"He still disdained the curled wigs of fashion, and wore his own hair, like a cavalier."

Oooo . . . a cavalier! Now you're talking!

But what about her adored little boy, James?

“James in his cot frowned in his sleep, chubby and truculent . . . She stole away, ashamed of her furtive tenderness for him - so primitive, so despicable, to be moved to folly, simply because he was male. He would no doubt grow up to be fat, and gross, and unattractive, making some woman miserable.”

What a grim thought. She needs fun. When she decides she wants to dress up again, or down, in this case, she laughs “to herself like a silly child on an adventure. She put on a faded gown which she would not mind tearing, and a silken handkerchief around her head, and slipped out of her own house like a thief.”

Completely unbelievable, but who cares? It’s fun and romantic and a page-turner that is beautifully written. There is danger, but that’s half the fun. If I’m going to read historical romance, it had better be as entertaining as this.

No bodices were ripped in the making of this book. Not where we could see them, anyway. I have to give it four stars for enjoyment, but only 3.5 for the fact that this is not du Maurier at her best.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
October 28, 2020
An escapist book about escapism as a lifestyle!

A Midsummer Night's Dream come true and better than that!

A woman's life revised and changed and made ALIVE!

Sexuality awakened and conventional hypocrisy buried!

Priorities redefined!

Predator killed by its prey!

True passion!

Everlasting motherhood!

I had no intention whatsoever to read this novel, and even less to like it. But then a coincidence made me start it - and that was all it took. Despite everyday life being more demanding than usual (and "usual" already being more demanding than reading requires) it had to be finished in two sessions, the last of which took a precious hour and a half of my regular weekday sleep allotment.

The tension of the pirate adventure exploded in a wave of escapist happiness, and like the heroine in the story, I am left with a sense of "having lived" a moment of perfect passion.

Not sure if I should recommend this or not. Better not. I think the Frenchman will sail into your creek when you are ready to face him! Be sure to live when it happens!
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
816 reviews616 followers
April 6, 2022

I tried this book when I was younger - & like Jamaica Inn it was a DNF. But I have become such a big fan of Du Maurier's work & it was one of the books in the Book Pool at Retro Reads, so I thought I would give it another shot.

I couldn't warm to the character of bored aristocrat, Dona St Columb & wondered if she was based on Du Maurier herself. She improved by the end of this book, & was certainly very brave. I can't even remember the name of the French pirate Dona fell in love with - & I only finished the book last night. He didn't have much personality at all.

There was a lot of fast paced action, some of the more minor characters like the enigmatic William were very well depicted. I enjoyed this book, but I know I will never read it again.

Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,329 reviews2,147 followers
July 25, 2015
An enjoyable read but really just a historical romance and lacking the suspense and mystery of Rebecca or Jamaica Inn. Her writing is as usual superb and I loved her descriptions of Cornwall and the Helford Passage which is as beautiful as she makes it sound. Altogether a very readable book especially for anyone who likes a light romance but not one of du Maurier's best works.
Profile Image for Maureen.
347 reviews82 followers
July 29, 2022
I just love Daphne du Maurier’s writing. The prose in this novel is beautiful.
You really feel that you are right at the river with the waves crashing and the birds signing.
The atmosphere is delightful.

Poor Lady Dona is bored with her aristocratic life. She ventures out with her two young children leaving her husband Harry in London. She arrives at her husband’s home in Cornwall. Here she embarks on an adventure with the notorious pirate Jean-Benoit Aubrery.
I loved Lady Dona. She is a fun free spirited young women.
It is an intriguing adventure story. Very enjoyable light read.
Profile Image for JimZ.
1,063 reviews497 followers
May 7, 2021
Boo-hiss. I normally like Daphne du Maurier’s works. But this tale strained and exceeded credibility. The different things that Lady Dona St. Columb did to aid and abet the Britany pirate (Jean-Benoit Aubery) was simply unbelievable. Plus, there was a minor thing that bugged me. She didn’t give a rat’s ass about her 5-year-old daughter Henrietta and one-year-old James. Well and another thing: the pirate told her he had decided that there would be no other woman in his life when he first saw a painting of her on the wall, a painting in which she wore a sullen face. Wow, like why would that be? Why would he be attracted to a sullen-faced woman? And she, the minute she saw him, she fell in love. Excuse me? This read like a bad fairy tale. 😐 😑 😬

Profile Image for Sue K H.
362 reviews68 followers
January 13, 2021
It's settled Daphne du Maurier is a favorite. Here a bored housewife finds love and adventure with a pirate. It sounds cheesy right? Well, it may be but not as much as you'd think because it's fun and the great writing shines through. This adventure story can't match the brilliance of Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel, but it's great writing just the same. I'm going to make my way through everything she's ever written.
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,083 reviews921 followers
December 18, 2018
Loved, loved, loved this novel.
The writing, the atmosphere, the spirited English woman and the French pirate - Arggggh and oui, oui, Oui! Have I mentioned the writing?

This novel was sensual, intense and dreamy, at the same time. There's barely any sensual touching, still, to me, this was hotter than any other modern romance novel that spares no details describing intimate acts.

The audiobook was brilliantly narrated by John Castle.

I guess it's official, I'm a bona fide du Maurier fan.

Profile Image for Patricija || book.duo.
587 reviews389 followers
April 26, 2021

Taupiausi kiekvieną sakinį, ką čia apie puslapius bekalbėti. Tai būtent tokia klasika, kokia suvirpina širdį, tą ne paaugliškai jautrią, baisiai retai, bet Daphnei ir vėl pavyksta. Kurdama nepamirštamus veikėjus, kurių neįmanoma nepamilti, ji kala tiesiai į širdį, paleidžia pilve plasnoti drugelius ir sukonstruoja tokį romantinį-nuotykinį romaną, kad nesuprasiu nei vieno, kuriam po šios knygos nesinorės leistis į romaną su piratu. Ir ne kokiu tai nusigėrusiu Džeku Sparrow, o žavingu bohemišku laisvamaniu prancūzu, kuriam tiesiog neįmanoma atsispirti.

Ne taip kaip daugelyje senovinių romantinių istorijų, šioje yra ir dvigubas dugnas, ir dūžta stiklinės lubos, ir yra vietos feminizmui, net jei uždangstytam laikmečiui pritinkančiais „ką tos bobos sugeba“ pazirzimais. Pagrindinė veikėja, plėšoma tarp mylimų vaikų ir noro juos užauginti, o ir tarp mylimo prancūzo pirato, bei noro gyventi tokį laisvą gyvenimą, koks tuometinei moteriai kitomis aplinkybėmis, nei kad jo siūlomos, nebūtų pasiekiamas, savo vidine kova įtikino mane nuo pat pirmosios akimirkos. O svarbiausia, nė akimirkai neužkniso. Įprastai veikėjai, esantys kryžkelėse, gali greitai peržengti ribą tarp žavumo ir akių vartymo, bet ne čia, oi ne čia. Daphnė skaldo bajerius ir kuria įtikinančius veikėjų portretus, juos papildo nerealiais dialogais, o ne saldžią romantiką užaštrina tokia veiksmo pasiutpolke, kad tik spėk kiekvieną veiksmą ir atoveiksmį susekti. O geriausia, jog sugeba visa tai sutalpinti į vos 300 puslapių – nė akimirka neprailgsta. Bet ir akivaizdu – daugiau net nereikia. Retai kada autorius pasiekia tokį tobulą balansą, tobulą aukso vidurį.

Neįmanoma neišgirti ir nuostabaus, atmosferiško, absoliučiai GYVO ir dar vienu romano veikėju tampančio Ievos Sidaravičiūtės vertimo – šis toks nuostabus, jog nė akimirkai nedingteli mintis, jog romaną originalo kalba skaityti būtų maloniau. Ir nors nemaniau, kad taip nutiks, vis dėlto pripažįstu: čia geriau ir už Reičelę, ir už Rebeką. Patys įsitikinkit.
Profile Image for lavenderews.
588 reviews753 followers
May 18, 2023
Bawiłam się wspaniale, ale nie jest to ta Maurier, którą pokochałam kilka lat temu.
Profile Image for Natalie Richards.
411 reviews179 followers
August 30, 2017
I know that if I ever need a book which is guaranteed to transport me to another time and place, and which I know that I am going to thoroughly enjoy,then I need look no further than du Maurier.
March 17, 2020
I adore Daphne Du Maurier, and I think she's probably one of my favourite female writers. Rebecca just totally blew my mind, and Jamaica Inn followed suit. This book however, wasn't as psychologically exciting as those two, and for me, there was an obvious lack of suspense, but despite this, I still enjoyed Du Mauriers signature prose and unmatched writing.

I do enjoy the way feminism is strongly existent within this book, as the story is about a woman that refuses to be what society wants her to conform as, and she has a husband that also wants her to be a certain type of lady, which obviously, she will never conform to either. Yes granted, she is a little silly at times, but overall, she breaks the rules, but most of all, she breaks the mould.
Profile Image for Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ....
1,937 reviews47 followers
June 25, 2017
Daphne du Maurier enthralls and enchants me again. This book is less foreboding than others but is still wonderful. What is not to love about French pirates wooing an English woman and then allowing her to live a moment as a pirate herself? What is not to love about beautifully written prose and a very feminist slant? There is very little about which to complain in any of du Maurier's books. I have now read 8 of them and am on the hunt to find her others.
Profile Image for Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore.
799 reviews180 followers
June 15, 2022
Frenchman’s Creek is a novel of romance, of adventure, of pirates and of Cornwall, and rather different from the gothic, suspense/thriller themes one usually associates with her. A novel I’d enjoyed very much on my first read years ago, this was a revisit for Ali’s #DDMReadingWeek (https://heavenali.wordpress.com/ddmre...) for this year.

In Frenchman’s Creek, we meet the daring and impetuous, Lady Dona St Colomb, married to a baronet, the good natured, but clumsy and not very bright Harry. She scandalises those around her and makes herself the talk of London by going out drinking and dining with Harry, ‘the only wife amongst a crowd of mistresses’, flirts with his friend Rockingham (who proves to be a rather unpleasant person, to say the least), and plays pranks. But one prank having gone too far, she realises how much she actually despises London life and all that she’s become, and decides to escape with her two children, Henrietta and James, and their governess Prue to Navron House, Harry’s family home in Cornwall, which has been unoccupied many years. This decision too is on the spur of the moment and must be given effect to as rapidly, irrespective of how any one else feels in the matter. At Navron, she finds the house in the charge of only one servant, William, who unlike the usual rung of servants is quite forward in his responses, but somehow Dona takes to him and allows him to remain. She begins to spend her days simply enjoying the peace and quiet, and nature. A short visit from Goldolphin one of her husband’s old friends (whom she finds a ‘turnip’) makes her aware of the presence of pirates in the neighbourhood, but she knows even from his account that their deeds seem far too exaggerated, and the local nobility far too dim-witted to be able to outwit them. Nonetheless when she falls within their path, she is a little afraid but soon finds the band, and indeed their leader Aubéry very different from what she’d pictured pirates to be. Soon, she finds herself falling in love and also finding excitement in life once again, joining in on their adventures. But these adventures are no pranks that she played in London and the consequences and dangers very real, and the decisions she takes will impact her whole life!

Like my first time reading the book, once again, I found this one entertaining and thorough good fun. The story is a romance at its heart, no doubt, but there is plenty more too it as well which makes it a far richer reading experience. The ‘pirate’ that Dona falls in love with, Jean-Benoit Aubéry, is a gentleman-pirate, who like her has escaped the life he was leading back on his estates, his adventures (usually well planned and executed) bringing him a sense of contentment that he never had. Dona joining the crew on its adventures, finds excitement, and feels herself alive once again, bringing about a complete change in her.

As is the case with most of du Maurier’s novels, Cornwall shines through in this book as well. There are some lovely descriptions of the area around Helston River, and of course, of the sea, and the experience of sailing. In fact, on this reading I noticed more consciously how much nature played a part in this book. Aubéry is fond of birds, observes them carefully and makes sketches of them often; when Dona first comes to Cornwall and starts spending time outdoors, simply lying in the grass, she begins to observe the butterflies, and more so, when she meets and begins spending time with Aubéry, she too begins to appreciate nature, observing the birds—curlews and swans, night-jars and herons—and really also all the beauty around her.

More generally also, she begins to appreciate the joy that simple pleasures bring—among them food—the meals she enjoys whether of vegetable soup or fish or chicken roasted over an open fire or a spit, or simply a hunk of toasty (almost black) bread with butter and cheese—all of these bring her much more pleasure than the elaborate meals she is accustomed to. So as much as the sense of excitement, and adventure, the feelings of peace and contentment that simple things in life bring, even time spend in silence amidst nature, are also what contribute to Dona’s happiness.

Dona in her rebellion whether in her London life or here again in Cornwall, is in a way also bringing up the issue of the lot of women in her day—she longed to ride with her brothers as a child but couldn’t being a girl, and tries perhaps to achieve that sense of excitement and pleasure through her daring as an adult. That rebellion also reflects in her contempt of the more dull and conventional men around her or in her reaction at ‘dutiful’ wives having to endlessly bear children till the desired heir is born.

I had fun with the adventure elements of the story, especially when Dona joins the crew on a pirating adventure. The thoughts and doubts in her mind during this episode were well done, and ones one would expect someone in her position to experience. But towards the end when things take a more dangerous turn, I felt things became a little too dramatic for my liking. However, I did like how du Maurier chose to end the book—it seems just right somehow.

I was pleased to have revisited this book after so long.

p.s. I also rather liked the opening chapter which reminded me of Kipling’s Way Through the Woods.
Profile Image for Jon.
1,325 reviews
January 24, 2009
Well, it's not often I pick up a novel and barely move from my chair until I've finished it. I'm not that kind of reader. But this one really held me. It's Du Maurier at her usual high standard, this one about, of all things, a swashbuckling pirate raiding the south coast of England in the late 17th century and the young woman who is swept off her feet by his brashness and romantic mystery. What could be more trite? Errol Flynn made a living doing versions of this. But Du Maurier does it so much better than you have any right to expect, that you are just swept along. There are descriptions of life aboard ship, and the taking of a "prize" that are every bit as good as Patrick O'Brian's. And as in Jamaica Inn, the setting itself is like a character--she never grows tired of describing the beauties of Cornwall. From the first page:"The long rollers of the Channel, traveling from beyond Lizard point, follow hard upon the steep seas at the river mouth, and mingling with the surge and wash of deep sea water comes the brown tide, swollen with the last rains and brackish from the mud, bearing upon its face dead twigs and straws, and strange forgotten things, leaves too early fallen, young birds, and the buds of flowers." Beautiful and ominous--you never know when the hard side of Du Maurier may suddenly come out and the jolly swashbuckling become very, very serious. Those early leaves, dead birds, and flower buds stick with you. She has an uncanny ability to keep you on edge. You're never quite sure how things will turn out, but once they do, it all seems to have been inevitable. Wonderful book. Thanks for the recommendation, Annette.
Profile Image for Tracey.
425 reviews93 followers
December 26, 2018
The opening paragraphs of this novel about the sea and nature, birds and places are so beautifully written that I was hooked.
It is a story of romance not usually my genre of choice but it is so much more. There is swashbuckling adventure, danger a plenty, escape in many forms, and a fabulous, heroine who is headstrong and brave.
Finally for my metaphorical book memory box and to share with the readers of my review, short passage to whet your appetite;
'Because I would be alone, because my humour is such that if I am not alone I shall drive you mad, and myself as well' she said.
'I don't understand,' he went on, his mouthset,his eyes sullen, and she in despair, tried to paint a picture of her mood.
'Do you remember my fathers aviary in Hampshire ' she said ' and how the birds were well fed and could fly about the cage?And one day I set a linnet free, and it flew straight out of my hands towards the sun?'
'What of it?' he said ,clasping his hands behind his back.
'Because I feel like that. Like the linnet before it flew,' she said, and then she turned away, smiling in spite of her sincerity, because he looked so puzzled, so hopelessly out of his depth.
4 lovely * from me.
Profile Image for Maureen.
213 reviews191 followers
November 25, 2013
cross-posted at booklikes and the mo-centric universe.

a few months of staring blankly into space means that finishing this book was a major accomplishment for me. normally, it would have been a quick read but for this cursed lack of focus.. anyway, it is a simple little romance, and i do like enigmatic, artistic pirates very much, so i found some fun in frenchman's creek. i wasn't crazy about it, though, beyond the eponymous pirate.

the heroine, lady dona st. columb starts off very precious, driving the thirsty and exhausted horses of her carriage on despite the concerns of the servant she commands. there is nobody chasing her, except perhaps an image in her mind of herself, wearing boy's breeches. she had lately done so, alleviating the boredom she felt in life by scaring an old lady while sneaking around in the middle of the night with her husband's cousin and best friend, rockingham. as a result of this secret shame, she has commanded that her husband, sir harry, stay behind in london while she exiles herself to his country seat, navron in cornwall, with just the children for company.

lady dona, or lady lady, if you will (dona is used as the honorific "lady" in latin countries) has come to realize that she doesn't much like the woman she's become (she will repeatedly tell everyone within hearing that she is "near thirty" in the novel) and that she worries that the dignity her title affords is all she has retained. she does not love her husband (she married him because she liked his eyes but apparently that is no longer enough) and she tries to love her children (she has two) but there's really only evidence of some small affection or perhaps more properly, a compulsive maternal connection to her son, james. her daughter henrietta is only casually mentioned and most often she doesn't distinguish between them, only saying how much she enjoys picking flowers with the children. of course, that's when she's not leaving them in care of their nurse, and sneaking off the estate for a few days to go fishing in the creek with our titular frenchman, the pirate. the pirate does has a name but in dialogue he is always the frenchman, so i'm not going to bother telling you his name; du maurier seems to have been allergic to them, anyway. sometimes he draws pictures of dona when he is not sketching birds or teaching her about fishing or the natural world. and of course he used to have a title and be fancy but he gave up all that for adventures on the high seas (and the high creeks, of course). so hurray for the frenchman despite his taste in women!

the thing that bugged me most about the novel was du maurier's handling of the period, the historical part of the romance. the book never feels planted in the seventeenth century even though the bulk of the action takes place then. she had already shown so much command in the previously-published rebecca and had already written this type of book, the bodice-ripper jamaica inn, so it's sort of surprising du maurier seems so unsure as a writer here. the first chapter is not set in the period she has committed to: instead she has a contemporary, unnamed yachtsman sail past the part of cornwall where dona's story unfolded two centuries before. she even provides a full precis of the action of the novel here, called forth by the land as he floats by: it is as if the birds, the creek and the country are haunted by this lady and her lover. perhaps she meant this "foreshadowing" as an effect to heighten the power of her romance, that the love herein described still "echoes through the ages" but i did not find it effective.

and then there's lady dona herself. du maurier wants you to knows she is an inevitably devastatingly beautiful, ringletted, fiery and strong-willed woman who is used to getting her way, essentially born in the wrong era. the problem in terms of the novel is that everybody else, ostensibly supposed to be part of the norm in society, accepts her behaviour and conveniently accedes to it at every point and frankly, i didn't buy it.. really? lord godolphin would allow her to do *that*? du maurier doesn't make the remotest effort to have dona's movements impeded by her time or position. her husband is ruled by her but so is everybody else, it seems. the only check on her actions comes from the lady herself which seems incompatible with restoration-era england.

as other reviewers have noted, lady dona seems to be du maurier's tragic mary sue, a woman who can bend anyone to her will, whose portrait can make a man lose his heart but whose face is conveniently forgettable when it counts. she cannot have everything she wants because she is constrained by her sex. i do actually feel that if du maurier didn't think Society would judge her for it, she would've given this novel the ending that some romantics yearn for, and had she not had children herself, i don't imagine the novel would have unfolded the way it did at all.

all this i struggled to accept but the worst parts of the novel for me were two scenes where dona and her frenchman were together, at their first late-night supper, and later on when fishing. dona is at her most annoying here as she petulantly mewls about the limitations of being a woman, about how much less a woman is than a man. thankfully the pirate argues with her in defense of the sex she disparages but it seemed to me her limitations were of class not sex: the reason she could not fish or cook was because she was wealthy, because she was a lady lady. and please stop saying women aren't creative, stupid dona, so that our hero, the frenchman can point out the obvious powers.

i did like the servant william and her dynamic with him, though i grew tired of dona's describing him as a man with a "button mouth". what does that even mean? (i keep imagining sylvester stallone's mouth.) also, i know i already mentioned it, but i thought i should end on a high note: the frenchman pirate is really attractive. come tell me about birds and share your cheese with me, monsieur. still, i couldn't help but think of how much more i had enjoyed sabatini's Captain Blood. now there's a pirate romance!

probably closer to 2.5 stars but given that i am happy to have finished something, i'm shining up three.

Creative Commons License
This work by Maureen de Sousa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Profile Image for Nadine Schrott.
454 reviews34 followers
March 4, 2023
Intensiver Klassiker der historischen Literatur.....anrührend und berührend....

Dona flieht vor dem gesellschaftlichen Leben Londons und ihrer konventionellen Ehe auf den Landsitz ihrer Familie. Dort begegnet sie dem außergewöhnlichen Diener Wiliam....und dem gefährlichen "Franzosen"...der Pirat ist....und nicht nur Donas Wertgegenstände rauben will....

Spannend und bewegend konnte mich diese romantische Story voll und ganz überzeugen....

Absolut lesenswert!
Profile Image for Lori.
168 reviews6 followers
July 27, 2017
In spite of the fact that I knew where this was going early on, I found myself completely immersed in this story. I love Daphne du Maurier. I admire her dream-like writing style and I was enchanted by this story.

When I opened this book, I was expecting a story about smugglers unloading crates of brandy by moonlight. But, Daphne surprised me here and because it's du Maurier, I went along with it. I do wish my copy had been some weathered old hardback handed down from a grandparent. Somehow, that would have been more appropriate. Her stories always make me feel so nostalgic. Perhaps it is her unique voice which I find hypnotic. And, her stories often recall the smallest fragments of a memory, long forgotten, but suddenly needing to be remembered.

Oh, I wish I had first read this on a beach, with the waves lapping up on the sand! This was great escapism. Literally and figuratively.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bree Hill.
822 reviews578 followers
September 25, 2017
My heart is so full right now after finishing this book. Daphne Du Maurier wrote the hell out of this book. It's only about 270 pages and I loved every word, every sentence that made this story. This will go on my list of stories that I won't go a day without thinking of. Seriously wish I could go back and experience it for the first time all over again.
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