Frenchman's creek, Daphne du Maurier

Lady Dona St Columb is not a happy woman. She leads an empty life at the 18th century court of King Charles II, and fills her days with playing cards, and riding around London pulling stupid pranks to shock the people and her dull husband.

But suddenly she is tired of it all and goes to Cornwall, where her husband has an estate. Her she finds a manservant, William, who has been looking after the place by himself, and his real master: the French pirate Jean Benoit Aubrey who comes to Cornwall to plunder the rich estates there.

Dona finds herself drawn towards the Frenchman, whose love for freedom matches her own and they fall in love. Dona dresses in boy's clothing to sail with him, but then her husbands also comes to Cornwall, to help his friends against the pirate and Dona must make a decision to keep everybody safe.

I love how often you can see a little bit of Daphne herself in her novels or short stories. The breaking point was written when she herself was at a diffcult time in her life and this book is no exception.

Daphne du Maurier was not a conventional woman. She was not very motherly (except to her son and when her daughters were older), and she was not interested in domestic things.
During WWII, she had to be involved in domestic things more than she liked, and she wrote Frenchman's creek as an escape.

On the first sight, it is a typical romantic novel, a pirate who is also a gentleman, a beautiful and headstrong nobelwoman, forbidden love and loads of exitement. I could not help but have Eroll Flynn in my head the entire time!

But it would not be a Daphne du Maurier if there was not a twist. Dona does not get her happy ever after, she must make a choice.

Perhaps it is not the best Daphne du Maurier, but I liked a lot of things in this book. I could not help but feel sorry for Dona. Had she lived in a different time (like 2019), she would have been one of those women who sail around the world solo, or climb Mount Everest. But in the 18th century there was little she could do.

Then again, she was rich and had a good position at court, it is not like she had no options at all to make something of her life.
But perhaps her adventures with the pirates will give her something to look back at and make her life more fulfilled.

This is the second book I read for Daphne du Maurier reading week. I had planned to read Mary Ann, but I miscalculated the amount of time I would have to spend marking final exams this week and I needed a book with less pages! That is also why I am one day late with this last review, I just did not have the time to write it earlier.

It has been great to read not just two books by Daphne du Maurier, but also all the other reviews by people who read different books. You can find them all over at Heavenali. Thank you, Ali, for hosting this!!


  1. It is many years since I read this one, but I remember it being as being more heavily romanticised than some of DDM's novels. My mum is currently reading it too - I am wondering what she will make of it.

    1. Yes, it is very romanticised, and that is why I was glad there was a little twist and not really a happy ending, so it did not become too sappy! I hope your mum is enjoying it!

      Kind regards,

  2. I saw a bad movie version of this one once, but I've never read the book. Sounds like I need to. :)

    1. Yes, I saw there are two filmversions, one from 1944 or something like that and one from 1998 with Tara Fitzgerald. Which one did you see?
      I can recommend the book, though, it is not as sappy as it may sound! (although more than her other books usually are).

      Kind regards,

    2. I think it was the 1998 version; they showed it on PBS (a TV station here) and I just remember not liking the characters very much, and my mom saying it wasn't like the book. Maybe the older movie is better.


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