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Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

When I say this book contains pirates, what would you expect from it? Something similar to the movie Pirates of the Caribbean? Swashbuckling adventure? Romance? Deception? This book has it all!

29- year-old Lady Dona St. Columb is beautiful, headstrong – and bored. Desperate to escape the pomp and ritual of the Restoration Court, she and her children left London to the hidden creeks and secret woods of the family estate in Navron, in Cornwall. A charming hostess at her husband’s party, privately she yearns for freedom, integrity and love.

The peace Lady Dona craves, however, eludes her form the moment she stumbles across the mooring place of a white-sailed ship in a hidden creek and met the French philosopher-pirate Jean-Benoit Aubrey who plunders the Cornish coast of incoming English ships from abroad that carries valuable goods.

As she became embroiled in a plot to steal another ship from under the English Authorities nose, she soon realises that she has to make a choice. To sail with the pirates or to live her conventional life? To listen to her heart or her logic?

‘My answer was still the same. That you were Dona St Column, wife of an English baronets, and mother of two children, and I was a Frenchman, and an outlaw, a robber of your country, an enemy to your friends. If there is an answer, Dona, you must make it and not me.’ – page 197 Jean Aubrey

As Lady Dona gets acquainted with the Frenchman, she found out that the man is not a typical pirate. He is educated, serves vegetable soups, bilingual and he has a philosophical view about life and death.  He is without ties, without man made principles, he is truly free. Dona who wishes for the same thing is constantly held back by her sense of duty said “The rest of us can only run away from time to time, and however much we pretend to be free, we know it is only for a little while – our hands and our feet are tied.’ Jean Aubrey gravitational pull is obviously to the sea but what is Dona’s gravitational pull?

Geographical location of the Creek

The Frenchman’s Creek of the book title, on the Helford River, near the town of Helford, Cornwall, at low tide

The entire novel has a very cinematic and theatrical feel about it. I love the action, the love of two liked minds and souls, the sacrifice of love, the climax of Dona’s decision and to the inevitable sad ending. It is all very Hollywoodish but under Du Maurier’s magical pen, our spawn a tale so intense, so beautiful and entertaining. It is a book that makes you sigh when you put it down and ponder what and where is your gravitational pull.

‘And are you happy?’ asked Dona

‘I am content.’

‘What is the difference?’

‘Between happiness and contentment? Ah, there you have me. 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.’ Answered Jean.

The search for ecstatic happiness is what drives many to their demise. This is the first Du Maurier book I really want to read again and one that made me look through the collection and wondering eagerly which of her books I should read next? Unfortunately, I have many books lined up that I have to read but I truly love this one.


We are all cogs in a wheel, and mothers most especially. it’s only the pirates who are free’.

I am reading this with Diane@Bibliophile by the sea and Bina@If you can read this.

This book is made into movie twice and for the life of me I don’t understand why Lovefilm (UK online DVD rental service) do not keep a catalogue of it?!

First movie adaptation of the book. (Dona on poster doesn't look much like a lady of ice to me!)

The second remake of the movie

Paperback. Length: 253 pages. Publisher: Virago Books 2006, originally published in 1941. Source: Own. Setting: Gothic Cornwall. Finished reading at: 3rd September 2011.

Other view:

Tony’s Book World: If you are seeking answers to the deep philosophical questions about the meaning of life or want to confront humdrum everyday routine, don’t read “Frenchman’s Creek”. If you want to be entertained with a fun implausible romantic adventure, you will be delighted by “Frenchman’s Creek”. It does not contain one speck of gritty, dour realism..


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


14 thoughts on “Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

  1. Oh WOW…I didn’t realize there was a movie of this one. I loved the Rebecca movie.

    Your review was terrific; thanks for inviting me to read this one. I love the way DuMaurier writes.


    Posted by Diane@BibliophileBytheSea | September 18, 2011, 1:15 am
  2. Haha, I can just picture the movie 😀 I really enjoyed it despite the dramatic romance, which says a lot about the quality of DuMaurier’s writing!

    Lovely review as always, thanks for including the picture of the creek and the map! Here’s mine:

    Posted by Bina | September 18, 2011, 7:57 pm
  3. Last year I read Du Maurier’s Rebecca, and The Birds and Other Short Stories, both of which I loved! Since then I have wanted to read more of her work but wasn’t sure where to go next, after reading your review I think it definitely has to be this one 😀

    Posted by jessicabookworm | September 20, 2011, 4:05 pm


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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
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The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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