The Bees by Laline Paull [Review]

 ‘Changes the way we see our world’  —SUNDAY TIMES

 ACCEPT. OBEY. SERVE.

This book had been on my shelf for quite a while. Recommended by a friend and selected to be part of Waterstones Book Club I finally decided to pick it up and read it. I have to say it was bizarrely amazing.

the bess laline paullWritten from the bee’s perspective we are introduced into the life within a bee hive. The book follows the story of Flora 717, a bee born a sanitation worker, the lowest on the hierarchy. She is only fit to clean the hive and dispose the dead bodies of her fellow sister bees . Flora is too big, too dark, she’s ugly by bee standards. However, she is strong, a quick learner, curious and can speak, while others of her caste are mute. Different is not usually allowed in Flora’s world. Any bee that is different or deformed is destroyed by the fertility police (Deformity is evil. Deformity is not permitted). A Sage, a high-ranking priestess, intervenes and saves Flora from death as she sees something in her, something different. Here is where the story of The Bees begins. From then Flora is moved to another ‘sector’ of the beehive, the Nursery.  Here, Flora is assigned to feed the newborns by producing Flow, royal jelly if you would like. From the Nursery, Flora moves on to become a forager, collecting pollen (food) for the hive.

Here Laline Paull gives us the wonderful scenes of the world outside the hive. We the readers can see the world through Flora and meet some interesting characters along the way; the wasps (the bees’ horrible cousins), the scheming spiders luring bees or any other insects to their beautiful woven silken webs, dirty flies who are not liked by anyone as they are seen as filthy and the lowest of the low of insects. Once Flora returns to the hives, she enters the dance hall where she explains to her fellow sisters of what she’s been up to, where she has been and what she has seen.

Flora lives to accept, obey and serve her beloved holy mother, the Queen. But, when her instinct to serve is overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the most sacred law of all…. only the Queen breeds! What happens to Flora next is an adventure you my fellow book lover will have to discover yourself.

Other than Flora and the rest of the female bees who dominate the beehive, we are introduced to the male bees who I believe add a bit of humour to the book. Preening, strutting drones who are hilarious; ”Think now of those foreign princesses waiting for us. How fatigued, how impatient for love must they be? Would you bind them in chastity a single moment longer? Or shall we fill our bellies with the strength of this hive, then free them with our swords?”.  I have to say the were interesting to say the least!

The Bees is a very strange good book. At first it was a bit weird reading a book from a bee’s point of view and being introduced to her world but slowly you get used to it and become part of that family praying you don’t get on the wrong side of the Sage priestesses. Laline Paull captures the suffocating and claustrophobic feel of the hive, as well as shows us how the bees are able to communicate with each other. The words ”Accept, Obey, and Serve” are echoed throughout the novel. It’s the guiding law and religion of the beehive.

Paull’s extensive research into the bees can be seen throughout the novel and you cannot help but be fascinated by the story and become engrossed with the life of a beehive, from feeding the newborns Flow to the dance hall where Forages dance their flight for their sisters.  After finishing the book I saw bees in a different light. I was sitting in the garden the other day and a bee was flying around, The Bees came instantly to mind and made me wonder whether I was looking at a forager. I definitely recommend this book to anyone. It is a very good read. Enjoy!

Demy no bleed.indd

 

 

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Dracula- Bram Stoker [Review]

Was he beast, man, or Vampire?

I decided to finally pick up my copy of Dracula as I was in a gothic mood. What a read! A book of letters and journal entries, you get to read and experience every character’s thoughts, views, emotions and perspective … apart from maybe Dracula himself.

Dracula begins with Jonathan Harker travelling through Transylvania to Dracula’s castle. On his way there, Harker is warned by many locals that Dracula is not someone you want to visit after dark. The entire first part of the book is ”an exercise in dread” as Jonathan Harker slowly finds out that his host is something inhuman and utterly evil. The book is filled with scenes of horror that could freak you out. For me, there is a particular scene in the first part of the book where Harker sees three women who have been recently turned into vampires and are in search for blood to satisfy their thirst. It definitely sent chills 20150830_150407throughout my body.

The whole book as already mentioned is held via diaries. Through Jonathan Harker’s diary entries we look into his psyche and paranoia as he starts to connect the dots regarding the horrors of the night and the Count. The reader becomes part of the story, he or she is experiencing the fear and paranoia that Harker is experiencing. The build up to the meeting with Dracula and throughout the book to be honest is quite scary and tense. You cannot help but continue reading.

Other than Harker making his way to Dracula’s castle, not much happens in the first section of the story. However, the reader is introduced to Count Dracula and you get the feeling that things are about to get better and more interesting. In the second section of Dracula you’re introduced to Harker’s fiancé Mina Murray and her friend Lucy Westerna, our two female heroes.  While reading the correspondence between Lucy and Mina as well as their diary entries you cannot help but think of Jonathan Harker and what has happened to him, as his fate is left on a stand still at the end of the first section and does not appear in the second. Soon the characters of Dr Seward, Quincy Morris and Arthur Holmwood, the three of which are suitors to Lucy are introduced.  For me, Dr Seward’s entry was perhaps the most interesting as we read about a certain mental patient of his, Renfield. Renfield is an irksome zoophagous mentally unstable. At first you don’t know what relevance he has in the story, but he keeps you on your toes. You find yourself turning page after page and all of a sudden everything clicks. He does have a part in the story. He does have a purpose.

Another character comes into the story, that of Dr. Van Helsing. A Dutch professor, an expert in pretty much everything but most importantly for this story, in vampirism. What a character. He did make me laugh. He is the one who knows all about medicine, superstitions, and religions. He comes to our rescue regarding our ‘beloved’ Count Dracula. All the characters are well portrayed, each with their own unique personality, characteristics and role to the story as they attempt to destroy the inherent evil, Count Dracula.

For someone who did not know the story before and not watching any of the films (I know- I have already been told off for not seeing the classic film of Dracula) I could not stop turning the page. I wanted to know who this Dracula was. I did not know who survives and who doesn’t. Will anyone be turned into a vampire or not? Will they manage to destroy Dracula once and for all? Before Dracula, the only other good vampire book that I had read and really enjoyed was Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. Now I have two added to my library. Many comment that old classic books such as Dracula are not as captivating or gripping as modern books. I disagree. The horrors of the night and the various warnings of ‘things’ that come in the night are described in such a way that grabs you and makes you worry about the safety of the characters. The language is captivating, the atmosphere gothic and the story itself is heartbreaking, full of emotion. Also the fact that the story is portrayed through diary entries makes it easier to read, I find.

I read somewhere that Dracula ”touches on many themes, savagery, love, religion, technology and xenophobia”, it leaves you thinking. Dracula is a genuine horror story and I would recommend it to anyone.

Trade Wind- M.M Kaye [Review]

”An enthralling blend of history, adventure and romance”

Not so long ago, I wrote a review about M.M. Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon. I did love that book, still do. After reading that my mum suggested Trade Wind. She guaranteed that I would love it also. By god she was right. Now I don’t know which one is better, Shadow of the Moon or Trade Wind? I cannot decide, they are both equally as good.

Whereas Shadow of the Moon was based in India during the Indian Revolution in 1856-7, Trade Wind is based in Zanzibar in 1859. Zanzibar was the last and largest centre of the slave trade. Hero Hollis, our main protagonist, is the niece of the American consul in Zanzibar and a passionate opponent of slavery. Her main mission is to travel from America to Zanzibar and try and stop the slave trade. Soon she involves herself in a revolt that sweeps the island, and then cholera breaks out.Trade Wind

A story full of action and drama. A book that I could not put down. Hero Athena Hollis is a handsome, courageous, wealthy American who travels to Zanzibar after her father’s death. Her journey to Zanzibar was anything but smooth. She finds herself caught in a storm and soon is thrown overboard, thought to be  dead by her fellow companions. She is then fished out from the harsh sea by a Captain Emory Frost. Rory Frost is scandalous, gun-runner and slave trader; everything Hero stands against. You want to hate him but you can’t. Rory delivers Hero to Zanzibar without realising what a beauty he has had on his ship, as Hero was battered, bruised and sick from her fall in the ocean. Probably for the best really! Once in Zanzibar, Hero finds herself joining a plot against the Sultan (with the best intentions as far as she is concerned)in order to throw him off the throne and his younger brother, Yabid Bargash, to take over.

M.M. Kaye’s story is rich in historical detail and background, the storylines have depth and scope. Kaye’s description of Zanzibar is just magical and so colourful. Images of an exotic paradise  of shimmering sand beaches, crystal waters, and perfumed with the scents of blooms and trees. But, there is also the horrible side of Zanzibar, that of squalor, filth and disease. When Hero arrives to Zanzibar she comes across with the sight of slaves being thrown overboard , being sold or just transported. She is horrified, and cannot believe a place as beautiful as this can be at the same time horrible and barbaric. The contrast between the eastern and western cultures is interesting and thought provoking. Hero soon comes to the conclusion that her noble mission to stop slavery might not be as simple as she hoped.

Hero can be seen as naive and spoilt. She thinks that she can change the world despite Rory Frost telling her it is not that easy. She soon realises that everything is not black and white as she originally thought and you get to see Hero mature throughout the book and gain a perspective that is more realistic. She becomes more open and warm. We also get to know Rory Frost’s background and the reasons that led him to be who he is and do what he does. Hero and Rory’s relationship is intriguing, and despite the fact that when you began reading the book, you could see their differences, slowly but steady you understand their attraction for each other and can see it developing into something more.

There is a particular scene in the book that a lot of readers were appalled by and in a way ruined the book for them. I am not going to say what the scene was in case I spoil it for anyone who wants to read this book but I will say this. I will acknowledge that this particular incident is very controversial, but for myself, I can see why M.M. Kaye put it in the story. If you think the context of the plotline, the time period  and maybe the motivation of the lead male character, I believe the action was well justified. I will be honest and say that when I first read this particular scene I was angry, frustrated and shocked. I did not know whether it would make me change my appreciation for the main male character. After thinking about it and when I read his reasons for doing so I could see the importance of ‘building of character’ and the necessity of it later in the story. However, I do understand if other readers will not agree with me.

The characters in Trade Wind are well drawn and some you hate and some you love. From the beginning of the book you know there is something strange with Hero’s fiancé, her uncle’s stepson, Clayton Mayo. He turns out to be exactly what you think and in some certain circumstances he will surprise you. Like in Shadow of the Moon there is always another female character who you dislike at the beginning but in the end turns out to be a respectable woman and a great friend to the main female character. After Rory Frost and Hero I think my favourite character would be Batty, a sailor on Captain Rory’s ship, who was a rogue through and through, but also has a heart. He is the loving uncle who would protect Rory as best as he could and tell him when he is being a scoundrel and wrong. The Sultan is also an interesting character. Rory Frost is his confidant and great friend and can manage to get away with a lot because of his connection with the Sultan.

M.M. Kaye has a beautiful way with words. Her knowledge of the far East shines throughout the book. She stays as historically accurate as she can and she does not hold back when it comes to the customs of Zanzibar, the slave trade and the cholera epidemic. Once again, just as she did in Shadow of the Moon, M.M. Kaye shows us how different the west and east are. How they both have completely different cultures and traditions and will probably never see things the same way. Trade Wind is a beautiful tale that will get you hooked from the first page. I would recommend to any historical fiction lovers, any M.M. Kaye lovers or to anyone who wants to try something new.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard [Review]

‘Red Queen is a clever blend of The Hunger Games, The Selection, Graceling and Divergent.” – Starbust

Taken from the back cover of the book:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite isbn9781409155843warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

This is Reds against Silvers,  prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart….

If you enjoyed reading The Hunger Games, Graceling and I guess the Divergent series [have not read Divergent yet] you will like/love this book. My reason for picking up this copy was due to my love of both the Hunger Games series and the Graceling series.

Red Queen opens with a Roman style amphitheatre battle between two Silvers. Full of plot twists and betrayals, soon you don’t know who to trust. The world that Victoria Aveyard has created is wonderful and capturing. Red blooded slum dwellers are ruled by the silver blooded nobility; who each have different powers and those with the strongest powers hold the higher chairs of nobility.Sound familiar?

 Due to the fact that Mare, a Red, discovers that she has an ability of her own, the King forces her to play the role of a long-lost Silver princess. She is soon betrothed to the second prince, Maven, and she is watched constantly by the Queen. Mare is drawn further  into the Silver world and uses her position to help the Scarlet Guard (Red rebellion group) hence risking everything. Mare is a great main character; she is fearless, rebellious, headstrong and very brave. She would do anything for her family and friends. In that sense, she reminds us of Katniss Everdeen and Katsa.  As far as the Princes go, you do not know who to root for. Maven, the youngest, who constantly lives in the shadow of his older brother or Cal, the Prince who is next in line for the throne and a soldier. You can guess from the beginning of the novel there will be a love triangle or should a say a love square? If there is such a thing as Mare acquires three male admirers.

 You are immediately hooked from the first page. You feel for the Reds and hate the Silvers, apart from maybe the Princes. 😉 Soon you do not know who to trust, the King’s second son Maven or his first born and heir Cal or maybe neither! One thing you do know, is that you hate Queen Elara. I can see how Red Queen is being compared with the Hunger Games, with its corrupt ‘government’ and rebellious groups.  You can even argue that you see a bit of Game of Thrones in this series especially when it comes to Queen Elara, who you could say was modelled of Cersei Lannister? Maybe.

It is well-written, fast-faced and in certain points predictable. However, I am willing to give it a chance because I feel like it will be a series that I will love and I could not put it down once reading it. It is the first book in a trilogy, so there is plenty of room left for Victoria Aveyard to ”spread her wings” and create a really good series. I might not love it as much as The Hunger Games and Graceling, but close enough. It is worth reading if you get a chance and I feel it will become a favourite amongst young-adults… even to a some extent adults. 😛

 ‘Power is a dangerous game.’

Lost Horizon- James Hilton [Review]

What a fantastic little story. The first time I ever came across ‘Lost Horizon’ was when I 71lMxC8oPCLwas looking at my mother’s books. This wee book caught my attention and I asked her about it. She told me that it is a lovely wee story set in Shangri-La and it involves a small group of people who after a plane crash find themselves in Shangri-La. She then stopped and just told me that I should read it and I will love it. Of course she was right. I am going to be honest, that it took me awhile before I could pick up ‘Lost Horizon’, I think I needed to be in a certain mood. I am glad that I finally picked it up. After finishing it I wondered why it took me so long to read it! Now that I have, I am happy.

It’s a magical story and a well-loved classic. Following a plane crash, Conway, a British consul; Millison,  his deputy;  Miss Brinklow, a missionary; and Bernard, an American financier find themselves in the enigmatic snow-capped mountains of uncharted Tibet. They soon discover a seemingly perfect hidden community where they are welcome with gracious hospitality. Soon though, our travellers set out to discover the secret which seems to be hidden in the heart of Shangri-La.

The book opens with our lead character, Conway, who is found in a hospital by a friend and has no memory of anything before he came to be there. His friend takes him out and puts him on a boat back to England. During their voyage, Conway happens to listen a man playing Chopin on a piano and after playing himself an unknown piece of music (which is clearly Chopin’s), remembers what happens to him. He then tells his friend and soon after we, the readers, get to hear Conway’s story through his own written manuscript.

Conway’s story is a wondrous tale, a tale that goes past any reason and it’s up to you whether you believe him or not. The story of what happened to Conway and his fellow companions is an extraordinary one. James HIlton’s ability to transport the reader into the magical world of Shangri-La is nothing less than beautiful.  Throughout this adventure we are introduced to interesting and well-crafted characters such as Chang; a postulant at the lamasery, who welcomes our travellers to Shangri-La, and the ‘all-mighty’ High Lama who Conway eventually meets (an un-heard honour) and is told the history of Shangri-La.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley. Janelle uses this because Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise, it’s seen as a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. This is the refuge that Cindi Mayweather needs to escape from Metropolis

A beautiful story set deep within the Himalayans, sits a mysterious place known only to a few as Shangri-La.

‘Lost Horizon’ is a story well written, thought-provoking and a pleasure to read. An enchanting little book that I think everyone should read if they get the chance. I have read various different reviews concerning this book and one statement has stuck with me. It was remarked that ‘Lost Horizon’ is ”the type of book written to make the reader to think”. I have to agree; even after finishing this book James Hilton made me wonder about this ‘lost’ world.  The ending is left open (in my view) letting the reader decide whether Conway’s memories were real or not, and what happened to him after the end of the book.

It is a lovely wee story and I will end this post but saying this; James Hilton put a smile on my face with ‘Lost Horizon’ and I was still smiling even after finishing the last page.

”We rule with moderate strictness and in return we are satisfied with moderate obedience. And I think I can claim that our people are moderately sober, moderately chaste and moderately honest.” – Chang from Lost Horizon

Timeline – Michael Crichton [Review]

The purpose of history is to explain the present–to say why the world around us is the way it is. History tells us what is important in our world, and how it came to be.
— Michael Crichton, Timeline

Michael Crichton was a brilliant man. He was a writer and a filmmaker, best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER, which became the best-rated programme on US television.  I have to admit that I never realised that the creator of ER was the same person who wrote Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery, the 13th Warrior and Timeline. The day I realised he was the same person I loved him even more.  I love ER and re-watch it all the time. I love his books as well.

I recently finished ‘Timeline’ and I loved it. I had seen awhile ago a film adaptation of thistimeline1 book and it was an alright film. If I remember correct it starred Gerald Butler, Billy Connolly and Paul Walker. A watchable film but nothing special. When I started the book I could not put it down. I loved it and it was a million times better than the film as it is often the case with books and film adaptations. This can be one of the many examples to prove the long-time argument of what is better, books or films? BOOKS is always the correct answer!

Timeline tells the story of a group of historians in 1999 who are employed by a tech billionaire genius. His plan is to build a theme park featuring artefacts from a lost world revived via cutting- edge science.  Whenan old man wearing a brown robe is found wandering disoriented in the Arizona desert. He is miles from any human habitation and has no memory of how he got to be there, or who he is. The only clue to his identity is the plan of a medieval monastery in his pocket. So begins the mystery of Timeline, a story that will catapult a group of young scientists back to the Middle Ages and into the heart of the Hundred Years’ War.”

His writing is inviting, enticing, tempting, addictive and just brilliant. I was captured from the first page of ‘Timeline’. Michael Crichton is a great storyteller and manages to explain the science behind the story. This helps anyone who does not understand or gets physics and manages to grasp a basic idea behind the science of the whole scheme of the book.  ‘Timeline’  is not your average time-travel story. It’s very detail-oriented, and you find out soon enough that some of the characters have an agenda deeper than just wanting to go back and visit the medieval times.

The characters are rock solid and believable.  The good guys were likeable and the bad guys were really bad — and I know how that sounds but it is true. You don’t know who to trust once you’ve travelled back in the 14th century. You are hoping that you manage to find Professor Johnson before time is up. I cannot choose a character that stood out for me, as all of them have their little quirks, from Andre Marek with his love of archaeology and the 14th century to Chris Hughes who started out as the ‘weak bookish graduate student’ and turned into the robust, confident hero who comes in to save the day.

You know that Michael Crichton had done lots of research before writing ‘Timeline’ as his brilliant account of the world of 1357 takes you back to a ”time which seems thousands of years in regression of civilisation. ‘The suspense throughout the book is unpredictable, well-narrated and interesting”. You are always on your toes for the next disaster or mishap. From the in-depth descriptions of the ”war lords, the customs, the castles, the fortresses, the soldiers, the knights, the languages (from Occitan to Latin to old English and very old French)”, and the endless adventures which came upon our time travellers, you felt as though you were part of that world.

The premise was appealing, the action was gripping, the plot thickens as you read and the ending was dramatically satisfying. I loved ‘Timeline’ from start to finish. I would recommend the book to any science-fiction lovers as well as historical fiction fans. It is worth a read and you never know, you might even like Michael Crichton’s style of writing and get hooked with his writing like I did.

When I started reading this book I knew a little bit about physics, and the history of 14th century France. After ‘Timeline’ I am confident in telling you more about quantum foam, particles and various historical trivia about 14th century France. Crichton combines history(medieval) and science(quantum technology) in a heart-stopping adventure that you will never forget.

“If you [don’t] know history, then [you don’t] know anything. You [are] a leaf that [doesn’t] know it [is] part of a tree.”
― Michael Crichton, Timeline

Have also a look at : Michael Crichton: “Timeline”

— K.J. Koukas

Frenchman’s Creek- Daphne Du Maurier [Review]

”a storyteller of cunning and genius” – Sally Beauman

frenchman's creekFrenchman’s Creek, set in 17th century England, is a tale of danger, mystery,  and passion. A pure, exhilarating adventure story, a novel of suspense set during the Restoration.

The central character in Frenchman’s Creek is Lady Dona St Columb who lives with her husband Harry and their two small children Henrietta and James, at the court of Charles II. Dona is beautiful, headstrong and most importantly–  bored. She is desperate to escape her London life,  leaving her husband behind she retreats with her children, and their governess, to the hidden creeks and secret woods of the family estate at Navron, in Cornwall. The house is beautiful and the grounds have a tranquillity that is soothing and restful. Dona spends many hours sitting in the sunshine and wandering the grounds. At the edge of the estate there is a woodland and being springtime the ‘woods are carpeted with bluebells’. Soon after she arrives at Navron, Dona is warned by a local landowner, Lord Godolphin, that a French pirate is in the area and that everyone living along the coast is in danger of being robbed or worse.

Though renowned for her passionate engagement with life, privately she yearns for freedom, integrity and love as well as peace. This is one of the reasons she left her London life. However, the peace Dona craves eludes her from the moment she stumbled across the mooring place of a white-sailed ship that plunders the Cornish coast. Guess who it is? the French pirate! And as she becomes embroiled in a plot to steal another ship from under the nose of the English authorities, 1370969_8533cf13she realises that her heart is under siege from the French philosopher-pirate Jean Aubrey.  It is only a question of time before Jean Aubrey captures the heart of the lovely Dona.

Button Book Reviews states that Frenchman’s Creek is one of those books that wraps itself around you slowly and by the time you are halfway in you wonder if you’ll survive your sense of loss once you reach the end. I happen to agree. While you’re reading, you slowly discover the characters, learn why Dona seems like a loose cannon and soon enough you empathise with her. You fall in love with the drama, the setting, the conversations, the sense of adventure and let’s face it, you fall in love with Jean Aubrey despite the fact that he is a pirate and in some sense a criminal- scoundrel.

Jean Aubrey is not what you would expect at first. When Dona discovers Aubrey’s hiding place by chance  and is brought to him, we see him at his desk drawing. He utterly ignores her and continues to draw. This is when Dona inspects him and describes him thus:

How remote he was, how detached, like some student in college studying for an examination; he had not even bothered to raise his head when she came into his presence, and what was he scribbling there anyway that was so important?  She ventured to step forward closer to the table, so that she could see, and now she realised he was not writing at all, he was drawing, he was sketching, finely, with great care, a heron standing on the mud-flats, as she had seen a heron stand, ten minutes before.

Then she was baffled, then she was at a loss for words, for thought even, for pirates were not like this, at least not the pirates of her imagination, and why could he not play the part she had assigned to him, become an evil, leering fellow, full of strange oaths, dirty, greasy-handed, not this grave figure seated at the polished table, holding her in contempt?”

Another character, who I soon came to love and admire is Dona’s butler, William. We first meet William when Dona arrives at Navron with her children. He is the only one in the house, having fired all the staff. He is patient  and manages to convey a great deal of impertinence while still seeming obedient and non- committal. You instantly suspect that William knows more than he claims and that he has his reasons for firing all of the house staff. His conversations with Dona made me laugh and smile with his cheekiness and impertinence.   [SPOILER] We soon find out that he knows our lovely philosopher-pirate Jean Aubrey and during the book he helps both Dona and Jean Aubrey meet and cover for his mistress when need be. He is loyal to both Dona and Jean Aubrey and you cannot help but love him and worry for him throughout the book in the event of his involvement with the French pirate to be discovered.

One small mention about Harry St Columb. Harry, Dona’s buffoon of a husband, is another character that stays with you whether you realise or not. As already said, he is a buffoon but you cannot help but feel sorry for him. He will never be able to provide Dona with the adventurous and intellectual companionship that she needs, but you can tell that he really cares for her and he is trying to make their marriage work. His affection for Dona can be seen here:

‘”I want to see you well,” he [Harry] repeated.  “That’s all I care about, damn it, to see you well and happy.”  And he stared down at her, his blue eyes humble with adoration, and he reached clumsily for her hand.’

Other than the characters, you are captivated by the first page of Frenchman’s Creek. The opening of the novel is an evocative historical palimpsest, layering the homely present of Navron House and the nearby waters over the lingering traces of the past, filling the dreams of a contemporary yachtsman: “as the tide surges gently about his ship and the moon shines on the quiet river, soft murmurs come to him, and the past becomes the present”:

”All the whispers and echoes from a past that is gone seem into the sleeper’s brain, and he is with them, and part of them; part of the sea, the ship, the walls of Navron House, part of a carriage that rumbles and lurches in the rough roads of Cornwall, part even of that lost forgotten London, artificial, painted, where link-boys carried flares, and tipsy gallants laughed at the corner of a cobbled mud-splashed street. He sees Harry in his satin coat, his spaniels at his heels, blundering into Dona’s bedroom, as she places the rubies in her ears. He sees William with his button mouth, his small inscrutable face. And last he sees La Mouette at anchor in a narrow twisting stream, he sees the trees at the water’s edge, he hears the heron and the curlew cry, and lying on his back asleep he breathes and lives the lovely folly of that lost midsummer which first made the creek a refuge, and a symbol of escape.”

Full of adventure, excitement and romance. Frenchman’s Creek is a great read for all ages. I have to say though, I will never forgive Daphne Du Maurier for how she ended the story. I did not see that coming at all and I was so annoyed. Now that I have thought about it in detail and went through all the scenarios in my head, I can see why she ended it as she did. More realistic I guess as one of the book’s themes is the idea of choice and what choices you have to make in life. I still felt annoyed at the time, and I think one small part of me still feels annoyed. Deep down in my heart,  I wanted the unrealistic ending.  Despite this little thing, it was a great read. Great characters, great story, beautifully written. A good old fashion romance.

— K.J. Koukas