Tag Archives: Cornwall

Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek

I love Cornwall. Have you gotten that yet?

It just feels like I have that place in the blood (and I can claim some Cornish ancestors), so any book that’s based there holds quite the draw for me. And with the re-doing of Poldark there’s quite a few who are enthralled by stories from that part of the world. Du Maurier is well known as a lover of Cornwall and lived much of her life there.

She’s author of the famed and haunting Rebecca, and also of Jamaica Inn which was dramatised again a few years ago (and her short-story The Birds inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film). I’d recommend watching Jamaica Inn by the way. It was slated at the time due to poor sound quality when it aired and ‘mumbling’ by the actors, so I ignored it for quite some time, but I finally came round to purchasing it when my period drama well had run dry and it did not disappoint. Sure, some of the accents are hard to decipher, but I thoroughly enjoyed the brooding nature of the cinematography and the well-acted characters.

Jamaica Inn

Literally, this is how I look when I’m on a Cornish beach. All brooding and contemplative…and apparently muddy

 

Jamaica Inn

A rather nice-faced actor here…

Anyway, Frenchman’s Creek was on my list, and so I start my book a month for a year challenge with that. I was down in Cornwall when I began reading it, so that was rather handy, and let me just say, the opening passage is quite literally (or literary – pun oh so intended), b-e-a-utiful.

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 11.19.56

Not the most inspire of covers. I bought this modern version to read, but because of how much I enjoyed it, I’ll be on the lookout for a vintage edition for my bookshelves

‘When the east wind blows up Helford river the shining waters become troubled and disturbed, and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores. The short seas break above the bar at ebb-tide, and the waders fly inland to mud-flats, their wings skimming the surface, and calling to one another as they go.’

And on and on it goes, as though the words are the sea itself, tumbling in waves over the reader until they’re totally immersed.

Tempo and melody

Two things I love about du Maurier’s writing: it’s hypnotic tempo, and her ability to portray people’s thought patterns.

In the first passage you get the hypnotic tempo, as if you’re being pulled along, helplessly on the tide of the book and trip, trip, trip along like the words are in a silent melody of their own. Divine.

Thought patterns captured

The other thing she is so brilliant at is capturing thought patterns. She has this insightful ability to follow the trip, trip, trip of her characters thoughts in such ways as if we’re really in their heads thinking, ‘yes, I follow that, I would think like that.’ Rebecca is actually a better example of it, but Frenchman’s Creek has this aspect too.

I’m always impressed by authors who make me think in such a way that in ordinary life I never would. Du Maurier can do this to me. Frenchman’s Creek follows Dona St Columb, an aristocratic lady from the 17th century who runs away from her husband with her children to their old rambling Cornish manor, Navron. There, while escaping the meaninglessness of her life and the person it has made her become, the story is about her finding herself again and falling in love.

Perhaps not a story I condone

Normally, I’m not a fan of any story that condones extra-marital anything. And I still am not. But what I think du Maurier does so well is to capture the changing emotions and thoughts that are going on here. I don’t advocate the actions, but her writing really is electric, and that’s not to mention the pirate, smuggling, adventuring that the novel has too! And don’t be fooled, it doesn’t end like you think, just like with most of her novels.

Encapsulating words

And du Maurier always seems to capture my heart for Cornwall and the countryside, the way I see it and love it, as encapsulate in these words:

…the river would be the same as it was in a century now forgotten, in a time that has left few memories.

In those days the hills and valleys were alone in splendour, there were no buildings to desecrate the rough fields and cliffs…

Oh, it gives me shivers! So, thank you to all those people who encouraged me to read du Maurier, I will slowly be devouring her books for many years to come and I recommend Frenchman’s Creek to Cornwall and literature lovers alike.

Trivia

On a trivial note, one of du Maurier’s daughters was called Flavia, which will lead nicely on to my next post about Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley who’s heroine is also called Flavia…

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Back in the Blogging Saddle…

Well, if I cannot be in the actual saddle on a horse’s back then I should at least write something relating in a mild and tepidly amusing way to horses!

It feels good to be back on the blogging scene after an Anniversary (woop!), a holiday to Cornwall, two birthdays, a Christian Conference, a birthday party (in The Only Way Is Essex theme) and moving house. It’s been such a crazy time and I’ve been looking at my MS just sat on the side chilling and getting so frustrated that I couldn’t sit down and work on it!

I feel it has been too long, and I was almost afraid, when I looked back  at the last awful blog I wrote, that I would not be able to write something better to erase it from all memory. But then, is it neccessary?

I have started reading a really interesting book I got for my birthday called ‘The Creative Writing Coursebook’ (thank you Abi Bettle!), and I just read a section of it this lunch time in front of the library on a gusty, grey day. It was really rather chilly actually but I seem to have an obsession at the moment with grey, overcast days because of their innate bleakness and the passionate emotions they seem to show, it’s like the weather is upset or in a tantrum, and I just find that it makes me unbelievable inspired to write!

Anyway, I was reading this book and this rather clever man called Paul Magrs (well he seems clever at the moment), was writing about writers and how many cannot remember when they first started writing stories or poems, about how they remember when they first showed it to someone or started writing ‘properly’ and there I was wandering rather dangerously along the streets of Chichester, my head buried in the pages of a book and nodding along quite merrily as I agreed and found similarities with myself.  So, after avoiding some human and car traffic which was for some reason getting in my way when I wasn’t looking, I read a section on how sometimes you have to write rubbish en route to writing something good.

This is something I have found time and again, even blogged about and here I was acting like it was some revelation! But there was something which did strike a chord with me, especially as I am now on the fourth revision of Letty thanks to some helpful advice from M.M. Bennetts and a great deal of needed encouragement from my Daddy. I’ll quote what I liked so much:

But you have to remind yourself – you have to be told – that these first lines (of a novel) were most probably not what the author first wrote

And it’s so true, you should see the first revision of ‘Letty’, it’s covered in red pen, pencil, black biro (pretty much anything I could get my hands on), and it’s just a beautiful mess of paper. A beautiful mess because I can see it improving, even if it looks worse! I can see it growing!

So, to all of you who are writing, starting to write, revising manuscripts –

Keep Calm and Carry On!

It has been lovely to blog on my lunch break, but I really must work now. I hope you have enjoyed the return to normal blogging topics and that writers have been encouraged!!!

P x