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Feb 5, 2013

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Housewife bored with sophisticated domestic life falls in eternal love with a French pirate

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier
Paperback, 284 pages
My edition published March 1st 2009 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published 1941)
Personal copy (I was not solicited for review)
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars

Frenchman's Creek, set in 17th-century England, is an absorbing tale of adventure, danger and passion. Lady St. Columb is bored with fashionable life at Court so she sets off for the peace and freedom of her husband's Cornwall estate. Quite unexpectedly, she stumbles on the mooring place of the white-sailed ship belonging to the daring Frenchman who plunders the shores of Cornwall. It is only a question of time before this philosopher-pirate captures the heart of the lovely Lady St. Columb. Satisfying, romantic, swashbuckling action.

That last sentence of the synopsis describes the tone of the book very well: Satisfying, romantic, and swashbuckling. The main protagonist Dona, aka Lady. St. Colomb, toast of London society, is having a small mid-life crisis as she approaches her thirtieth birthday. She is normally the talk of her high society friends as she is a prankster and a lover of life, but she took a look at herself and was not pleased. She ran off to Navron House, far away from it all, as an escape. It turns out there is a French pirate lurking in her midst, and the two meet up, and fall in love.

Frenchman's Creek is one of those books that wraps itself around you slowly and by the time you are halfway in you wonder if you'll survive your sense of loss once you reach the end. It is a quiet type of read as you discover the characters, learn why Dona seems like a loose cannon, and slowly begin to empathize with her against your better judgement. And then you totally completely fall in love with everything: the setting, the silent storms of drama, the conversations...ah, sweet perfection.

I loved the tone, the rollicking witty banter between Dona and her servant William, who also happened to serve the Frenchman. And where we can imagine the bodice ripper style of romance.. that's all we get is that imagined point of view, because du Maurier remains classy and simply alludes to the romance. The undertones are understood, and even though in normal circumstances I would probably despise a main protagonist who would temporarily deceive her husband and leave behind her children in order to go on an adventure with a fugitive.. this is du Maurier and I loved every minute of it. I deducted one half of a star because in the beginning I was trying to puzzle out where the action was, but soon the enchanting writing of du Maurier sailed me through this sexy and dangerous story. Once finished, I had to go back and re-read the beginning. It came together in a perfect harmony then.

LOVED it. I stayed up extra late to finish this one, as the action is full force towards the end and totally completely unputdownable even though I knew I had to be alert for payroll the next day. I need to find myself a swashbuckling French pirate with silver buckles on his shoes.