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Review: The Loving Spirit, by Daphne Du Maurier


Pages: 404
Original date of publication: 1931
My edition: 2003 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: I’m a huge Daphne Du Maurier fan
How I acquired my copy: the Strand bookstore, New York, July 2011


The Loving Spirit is the story of four generations of a shipbuilding family in 19th and early 20th century Cornwall. More specifically, the focus is one four members of the family: Janet, who’s story covers the period between 1830 and 1863; her son, Joseph (1863-1900); his son Christopher (1888-1912); and his daughter, Jennifer (1912-1930).

From the bleak Cornwelian landscape to London and back to Cornwall, Daphne Du Maurier weaves a fascinating story, heralding some of the novels that later made her famous. What I love about Du Maurier’s novels is that she really knew how to tell a compelling story.

While I didn’t quite buy the spiritual connection between Janet and her son Joseph (which supposedly also connects Christopher and Jennifer but gets dropped partway through the novel), I did enjoy the development of these characters over time. I love great family sagas, and only wish that this book had been longer and some of the characters more developed, particularly Jennifer, whose story got a bit rushed at the end. Also, the villain character was a little too stereotypical for my taste.

But otherwise, I really enjoyed this novel, particularly the author’s descriptions of Cornwall in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The plot moves swiftly, and Du Maurier does a fantastic story of contrasting the lives of the Coombe family against greater social and political events. Although not her best novel, this one is definitely a must for anyone who’s read Du Marier’s more famous novels, such as Rebecca and Jamaica Inn.

Comments

Karen K. said…
I just went to the Strand last weekend! I took my daughter for a girl trip to NY and we basically bought tons of books. Sadly, I didn't have a wish list with me and I was overwhelmed, I didn't even think about looking for du Maurier. What an amazing store!
Unknown said…
I have only read one book by du Maurier and that one was a only so-so for me. I do plan to read another book by her sometime. Even though you didn't like the character development it still sounds good. I love a family saga.

Thanks for your review.

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