Once at Navron she finds William, the butler, is the sole servant and the house is largely musty and unused. All but her own bedroom, which is freshly aired and has a curious jar of tobacco in the bedside table.
As Dona begins to relax into the rhythms of country life, she hears rumors of a French pirate plaguing the area. Soon William will prove to be Dona's link to the handsome villain and his ship, La Mouette. She will be drawn to this unlikely pirate and experience the adventure, and the heartbreak, of a lifetime.
There is a reason that Daphne du Maurier's books are classics today and that reason is her haunting use of language. Her books, including this one, are so beautifully written and so perfectly evoke the timeless, lonely quality of Cornwall that the reader feels transported.
I love the way she opens Frenchman's Creek , through the eyes of a modern visitor (well, modern as of 1941 when the book was written) who feels the brush of the ghost of a long ago tale, a tale so deep with feeling that it echos even still:
"He is alone, and yet - can that be a whisper, in the shallows, close to the bank, and does a figure stand there, the moonlight glinting upon his buckled shoes and the cutlass in his hand, and is that a woman by his side, a cloak around her shoulders, her dark ringlets drawn back behind her ears? He is wrong, of course, those are only the shadows of the trees, and the whispers are no more than the rustle of the leaves and the stir of a sleeping bird, but he is baffled suddenly, and a little scared, he feels he must go no farther, and that the head of the creek beyond the farther bank is barred to him and must remain unvisited. And so he turns to go, heading the dinghy's nose for the roadstead, and as he pulls away the sounds and the whispers become more insistent to his ears, there comes the patter of footsteps, a call, and a cry in the night, a far faint whistle, and a curious lilting song. He strains his eyes in the darkness, and the massed shadows before him loom hard and clear like the outline of a ship. A thing of grace and beauty, born in another time, a painted phantom ship. 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."
This is excellent and intense storytelling, many thanks to Sourcebooks for re-releasing the novels of this classic author. All the popular pirate romances these days (Jack Sparrow included) owe a debt of gratitude to Daphne du Maurier for paving the way with Frenchman's Creek.
If you would like to enter my giveaway to win a copy of Frenchman's Creek or My Cousin Rachel, click here. You can enter until midnight eastern on May 31 and must have a US or Canada mailing address.
Frenchman's Creek is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1710-4