“High above the clustered houses and the grey harbour waters of Plyn, the loving spirit smiles and is free.”
Although you know I’m not going to tell if that’s from the beginning of the book or the end. This first novel of Du Maurier’s tells the story of four generations of the Coombe family of Plyn, Cornwall beginning in the early 1800s as young bride Janet Coombe, happy as she is with her children and husband, always longs for the freedom of the sea. Her son Joseph follows his mother’s dreams and sets sail in the merchant ship built by the Coombe family and named after his mother – as is her image the figurehead at the prow of the ship. Joseph eventually marries, but his real love is always the sea and when he can no longer sail he takes his bitterness out on his family, which eventually leads to dire changes in their lives.
Throughout the book, the loving spirit of Janet Coombe seems to guide her family through the best and worst times of their lives. As a first book it is certainly good, but far from what readers of her later classics might expect, and a bit slow paced for the most part except the last 50 or so pages – she had me biting my nails for a while there. While I do enjoy family sagas continuing over multiple generations, this one is far from the best either, a bit too short and not as well developed as I like them. I’d recommend this one for fans of Du Maurier wanting to get a look at her first book, but I doubt there’s enough here to hold the interest of a more casual reader. 3/5 stars.