Hello my fellow bookworms, if you didn’t know, this has been Ali’s Daphne du Maurier Reading Week 2020! 🎉But as I can be notoriously slow at getting my reviews up, I decided to make a bit of a head start by reading The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier over last week’s sunny, early May Bank Holiday weekend to make sure I would have a review to share with you before the end of this week.
The Loving Spirit, du Maurier’s debut novel published in 1931, successfully established her reputation and style for a imitable blend of romance, history and adventure; as it sweeps us away to the small, quiet community of Plyn, on the Cornish coast, and chronicles the lives, loves, losses and deaths of four generations of the Coombe family there. It all begins in 1830, when the beautiful, wild, dark-haired Janet Coombe, constrained by the times, puts aside her passionate yearning for the sea and adventure, to settle down to marry and raise a family with her loyal, sensible cousin, Thomas.
Time passes and Janet and Thomas lead a contented life together: Janet as a devoted mother and Thomas as a successful boat builder, but Janet’s primal desire – what she calls her ‘loving spirit’ – never truly goes away and is passed on to their wilful, handsome, dark-haired son, Joseph; who at a young age turns sailor and lives out her ultimate dream becoming captain of his own ship, which he names after her. Their intense bond and shared spirit is so strong that unnervingly, not even death can break it, and it is passed on to their children and their children’s children.
What follows is a dramatic and gripping family saga, as generations of the Coombe family struggle against hardship and loss. As well as seeing how Janet’s ‘loving spirit’ both inspires and haunts first her son, Joseph; then her grandson, Christopher; and finally her great-grandchildren, Jennifer and John. All of which is cleverly plotted, by du Maurier, into an intricate and believable history set against the larger backdrop of huge social change and a looming war in Britain of the late 1800s and early 1900s, which will have great and devastating affects on the Coombe family fortunes and the quiet, shipping community of Plyn.
All in all, I thought The Loving Spirit was a brilliant, romantic adventure and family saga, with a sprinkling of the Gothic and supernatural – If I hadn’t known before, I would never have guessed this was du Maurier’s debut novel: it was as equally enchanting and well written as her later, better known works. Great read.
Now over to you: What do you think? Have you read this? Have you been reading anything by Daphne du Maurier this week?
As I mentioned above, I read this as part of the Daphne du Maurier Reading Week 2020, an event hosted by Ali over at her blog, Heavenali. I am now enjoying a re-read of Rebecca and I hope to follow that up with a re-watch of Hitchcock’s classic 1940 film.