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    Many people know Daphne du Maurier through her probably most famous novel Rebecca. If they stop there, it is unfortunate, because she wrote numerous books, and not just creepy ones. But most had one thing in common, which is, they were set in her beloved Cornwall where she spent most of her life. She is known for her elements of the paranormal in many of her novels and short stories, but not all. This one is strictly a romantic adventure, and she also wrote a number of historical novels, which are my favorites, especially The Glass Blowers, which is about the French Revolution and also about her ancestors on her father's side. It became my favorite the first time I read it, and when I read it again, it was still my favorite. I think many people are not aware that she also wrote the short story, The Birds, which was made into a movie that Hitchcock really botched, and she was none too happy, as it did not follow her story. In my opinion, that story is about climate engineering, as her husband was in the military and about that time, they began to "experiment" and did some damage along the coast near Cornwall. It is found in the collection, Don't Look Now. You may read about du Maurier and my reviews of her books on her Index Page. She was born in London in 1907 and died in Cornwall in 1989 at age 81. Here is her Wikipedia page, and here is the official Daphne du Maurier website.
    This present novel is not a very long, nor complicated read, as some of her others are, particularly the historical novels. It is a simple love story. Well, not really simple. Love stories rarely are, but it does not take concentration to read it, as the plot is simple, so if you are looking for a relaxing and entertaining read, this would be a good choice. Unlike my usual pages and pages of notes, for this one I just jotted down a couple sentences at the end of each chapter. The main theme is "escape," and that is a good one for many of us living through the horrors of Planet Earth, here in 2023. Here is the Wikipedia page for the novel.
    It begins, very briefly, in the present, noting how little of the old manor, Navron, still remains. A yachtsman pays a visit to the farm kitchen, then falls asleep in his ship. He has a dream, and we are transported back to the seventeenth century when the Helford River was little known and even more secret was the Creek. It is here that the French pirate, Jean-Benoit Aubéry claims as his secret hideout, as he robs the surrounding estates.

A forgotten century peers out of dust and cobwebs and he walks in another time. He hears the sound of hoof-beats galloping along the drive to Navron House, he sees the great door swing open and the white, startled face of the manservant stare upward at the cloaked horseman. He sees Dona come to the head of the stairs, dressed in her old gown, with a shawl about her head, while down in the silent hidden creek a man walks the deck of his ship, his hands behind his back, and on his lips a curious secret smile.

    But first, let us go to London, where the Lady Dona St. Columb, nearly age 30, is bored silly with her pretentious, phony existence. After committing a very mischievous prank, she announces to her dull and clumsy husband, Harry, that she is returning to his estate in Cornwall with their two young children for a while. Alone. Harry is too dim-witted to understand, plus he drinks and gambles. She just wants peace and freedom away from these loathsome London aristocrats.
    After forcing the coachmen to drive the horses 200 miles non-stop, she gets angry when they do stop to get them water and food. But they finally arrive at their destination to find that the servant William has let most of the other servants go, for which she tells him he could be fired, and he agrees. But the problem is, she realizes she likes him, and is soon to learn that he is her greatest ally. While in her bedroom, she also notices a container of strong tobacco and a book of French poetry. She decides not to confront William, but her observations tell her they do not belong to him.
    Presently, Dona is immensely enjoying her peace, lying disheveled in the grass while her children frolic. She is annoyed to get a visitor—Lord Godolphin, whom she finds grotesque and he has a growth on the end of his nose. His wife is pregnant, and she sort of pities her. But the main reason he pays a visit is to let her know about the band of ruthless and dangerous pirates who have been robbing the locals and who always manage to get away with it, He particularly warns against things they might do to women. None of their attempts to capture them, or even discover their hiding place have been successful. Dona finds it all amusing and just wants him to leave.
    Meanwhile, Dona gets to know William a little better. He speaks of his former Master who "travelled," but William has major issues with seasickness, so was compelled to seek another position. Dona begins to put the puzzle pieces together, and realizes William's former Master is the Pirate. She observes a man coming to the estate with William running to meet him. The next day she finds the creek, and ship, and one of his men discovers her, taking her "prisoner" on their ship, La Mouette. They then take her to their leader's cabin. The thing is, there is something humorous in all this. They are not rough and dangerous, and she notices the merry twinkle in their eyes. When she is taken to the Captain, he is doing something which turns out to be sketching a seagull, for that is what La Mouette means. She knows it was his book of poetry and his tobacco that was in her bedroom. The ship is clean and very tidy, and so are the men—nothing like one would connect with pirates. When he accuses her of spying, she accuses him of trespassing, without any fears whatsoever. Ah! So, he knows all about Lady Dona St. Columb, who had quite a reputation in London and apologizes when he learns it is she.
    After this meeting, everything changes in her life. She realizes she is alive, as she has never been before. She begins to see him regularly. They go on a fishing trip, and she gets frustrated that she cannot get the worm on the hook, catches a fish, then loses it. He catches a fish, but she feels sorry for it suffering, so he kills it instantly, then they make a fire in the woods, cook it and eat it. William, of course, is delighted that the two have come together. He is very intuitive, and sensed that each could fill a need in the other. He assists in their trysts. Incidentally, Jean-Benoit only robs the wealthy, and gives most of it away to poor people in France. He is a pirate for the adventure and danger, not to become wealthy.
    It doesn't take long for her to agree to help him in one of their robberies, or rather, she insists upon it. In this case, a local's ship will be arriving laden with goods. The night calm turns into a terrible storm, and she plays her part very well, everyone having made it back to a ship, free and clear of anyone pursuing them. She is soaking wet, cut, torn, and then gets seasick. She awakens after another day to find herself tucked in naked, sun shining, and her clothing drying on deck. It is here, during her five-days' absence that they declare their love, sort of, and do become lovers. I am surprised that du Maurier did not write a love scene, but there is nothing in this novel that would make it unsuitable for younger readers, except a little bit of mild swearing. Meanwhile, William alone has been "tending to her while she lies sick with a fever," not allowing anyone else in her bedroom, because, of course, she isn' there. After five days, she comes home to find her husband and his disgusting friend, Rockingham have arrived at Navron. By the next morning, she is "well" enough to admit him into her bedroom. The reason Harry came home was because a group of locals called on him, determined to catch the thief that caused Philip Rashleigh such a huge loss by stealing Merry Fortune. Twelve of the men are to have a dinner party where they can discuss their plan of action, which makes Dona anxious and annoyed. And even worse, the pirate ship has suffered some damage, and the repairs won't be complete for another day so they are stuck. And here is where the real action occurs, bringing the story to a climax and forcing Dona to make a choice about her future. And there I will end this review.
    This is a good story and a fun read—not a masterpiece, but I've found that some of the most enjoyable books are not. If you are a du Maurier fan, this is a must-read, and if you have only read Rebecca, then make a point to explore her other wonderful works.
    This novel was also made into a movie—actually a couple or more, but the one from 1944 follows the book very closely, which is more often not the case. In fact, I found I could say much of the dialogue to myself throughout because it was exactly as du Maurier wrote it in 1941! You can watch it free here. Here is the Wikipedia page for the film. The novel is really more light-hearted and subtly humorous than serious, but I didn't realize how comical it was until I watched the movie. Cecil Kellaway plays William, who was one of my favorite characters in both the book and movie, which also stars Basil Rathbone and Joan Fontaine. It's not a great movie, but like the novel, it is fun and entertaining. I really liked the part where the crew began towing the ship with a boat, plus rowing the ship, while chanting Breton tunes. One of them plays a lute. The scenery was good, too, for 1944, but I don't know where it was filmed. It looked like the cover of the book.
     Anyways, if you are stressed, and who isn't these days, this is one that will help you "escape." Recommended!

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