Jaded by the numbing politeness of Restoration London, Lady Dona St. Columb revolts against high society. She rides into the countryside, guided only by her restlessness and her longing to escape.
But when chance leads her to meet a French pirate, hidden within Cornwall's shadowy forests, Dona discovers that her passions and thirst for adventure have never been more aroused. 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.
Frenchman's Creek is the breathtaking story of a woman searching for love and adventure who embraces the dangerous life of a fugitive on the seas. -- Sourcebooks Landmark
I wasn't sure what to expect from FRENCHMAN'S CREEK by Daphne du Maurier, but I knew I wanted to read it. I am embarrassed to say that I have never read one of Ms. du Maurier's books (however, I do own two copies of REBECCA) and I am woefully ignorant of most classics. So when I found out that Sourcebooks was going to re-release a few of her novels, I definitely knew I had to read at least one of them.
I was so pleasantly surprised by this novel -- I really, really liked it. When I picked up the book and read the first chapter, I was afraid that it was going to be a bit difficult to read. I got a little nervous that it was going to be kind of "stuffy;" however, as soon as I read the second chapter, I was hooked. I was immediately caught up in Dona's life and her desire to flee London, her life as a Lady, and even her husband. And, I just loved all of the action and adventure packed into these pages.
I think most people will relate (at least a little) to Dona's desire to just get away from it all. The difference is that most of us would never do it in the fashion that Dona did. (I, for one, just think about it for a few minutes when the kids are driving me crazy and I want some peace and quiet -- I could never act on it!) Not only did she leave her home and husband in London, but once she was "free" she still managed to escape even further by leaving her children with a virtual stranger and running off with a pirate. I guess you could say that desperate times called for desperate measures, but I pretty sure that most women will not be able to relate to the extreme nature of Dona's actions. It does make for terrific reading though!
One of my most pleasant surprises about FRENCHMAN'S CREEK was the amount of humor in this story. Of course, Dona and her pirate were terrific characters but I loved how Ms. du Maurier brought them to life. While I didn't respect Dona for her decisions, I must say that I had a wonderful time reading about her escape; and I loved her sarcasm and her sense of adventure. Even though I found some of her actions despicable, I could almost understand them given the expectations and trappings that she felt existed in her life. I just couldn't comprehend how she could abandon her children, putting her own desires ahead of them. Of course, I could understand how she fell in love with the pirate -- he was a smart, perceptive and exciting man despite (or maybe because of) his choice of professions.
When I started reading FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, I wasn't really thinking about it as a book club selection. However, as I really got into the story and the characters, I discovered that it would make a wonderful selection. I think the themes of escapism and self-actualization make this book ideal for discussion (especially among women.) And I really liked that the book deals with these topics while also being a very entertaining and enjoyable read. I was thrilled to see that the paperback edition includes a reading guide in the back. I can't find the discussion questions at this time, but if I do, I'll certainly link to them.
A big thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me a copy of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK.