Skip to main content

Review: The King's General, by Daphne Du Maurier


Pages: 440

Original date of publication: 1946

My edition: 2009 (Sourcebooks)

Why I decided to read: I was interested in the premise of the book

How I acquired my copy: Borders, February 2010

Whenever I read a book by Daphne Du Maurier, I always want to go out and buy all of her books currently in print. Her books generally fall into two categories: suspense (like Rebecca or The Scapegoat); or historical fiction, like (Frenchman’s Creek or The King’s General); or something in between, like The House on the Strand.

The King’s General is set during the English Civil War. Honor Harris falls in love with Richard Grenvile, but her planned marriage to him falls short when she has a rising accident. Many years later, Richard is the King’s General in the West, and Honor is making shift at Menabilly, a house built and owned by the Rashleigh family. Daphne Du Maurier brings a piece of Cornish history to life as Richard and Honor’s stormy and often complicated relationship plays out.

Honor and Richard’s relationship isn’t what you might expect. It’s passionate, but at no time in the novel do they ever consummate it. Instead, everything is pretty much hidden under the surface, and there’s a lot that they don’t say about the past and what happened between them. I’m not sure why Honor cut him off completely after her accident, but it adds a lot of suspense to their relationship.

The historical parts of the novel are well researched, though there was a point in the middle where the plot suffered in favor of the Cornish rebellions. The novel is told from the Royalist point of view, but the author isn’t terribly partial to one side or another. There’s also a kind of mystery here, too, involving the house and mysterious visitors in the night and secret hiding spaces. It’s vintage Du Maurier, and she does this type of suspense very well in all of her novels.

Some really wonderful characters enhance the novel’s plot. Honor may be a cripple, but she’s not bitter about it, nor is she nostalgic for times gone by. She’s straightforward and honest, and she has a habit of listening in on conversations. Her crippled state makes people notice her less, and that’s why she’s the perfect character to narrate this story. I loved the tension between Honor and her sister-in-law, the grasping and selfish Gartred Grenvile, with whom she’s always playing literal and figurative games of Patience. Really, this is a well-written novel, and it’s now one of my favorite of Du Maurier’s novels. I wish Sourcebooks would reprint her books at a faster rate! Maybe they’ll reprint The Glass Blowers soon?

Comments

Joanne said…
Great review! I have enjoyed everything I have read by Daphne du Maurier, and like you, I'm purchasing new editions by Sourcebooks as soon as they are released.(Ithink the Sourcebook editions are lovely.)
Danielle said…
I think I've read more of her suspenseful works than historical novels, but I do have this one on hand (I bought a bunch of the Virago editions at one point--am glad Sourcebooks is publishing her work over here finally). I'll have to check this one out now.
Misfit said…
I'm glad you enjoyed this one, it is one of my favorite Du Maurier novels.
This is one of the few du Maurier books I haven't yet read --- it's on my shelf, but I just haven't gotten back to her recently. I was thinking around Halloween because she's such a great "fall time" author. Glad to know this one is a winner too!
Bookfool said…
You have to appreciate Sourcebooks for bringing back wonderful authors like Daphne du Maurier -- and with such beautiful covers! I've read a lot of her works, but not this one. I am now certifiably confused about which one I disliked. I can't remember if it was The Glassblowers or The Scapegoat, but I've loved every other one of her books but the book whose name I can't remember.
Sarah said…
I LOVE DuMaurier, but haven't read this one yet.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…