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The King's General by Daphne du Maurier

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Misfit
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The King's General by Daphne du Maurier

Post by Misfit » Sun February 8th, 2009, 8:20 pm

Set during the English Civil War of the 1640's, du Maurier retells a lesser known bit of Cornish history as an elderly Honor Harris reflects back on her life and love. Wooed by the charming, irascible but extremely flawed Richard Grenvile, eighteen year old Honor loses her heart and prepares to marry Richard until an accident permanently cripples her from the waist down. Richard and Honor separate, but meet years later during the Civil War as he is now the King's General in the West as they fight the Parliamentarian rebels - although not all the Royalists think too highly of Richard's high-handed approach to prisoners and discipline. While Honor refuses to marry Richard, her feelings for him are as strong as before and they begin a most unusual relationship as the tides of war ebb and flow around them.

Honor takes up residence at Menabilly, the family home of Honor's brother-in-law Jonathan Rashleigh and things soon begin to go bump in the night in typical du Maurier fashion - mysterious comings and goings, a secret door, a mystery floorboard in the summerhouse and..... well more than that, I'm not telling - read it for yourself. du Maurier once again weaves a magical tale, albeit this time with real-life characters. The dialogue between Richard and Honor sizzles off the pages, as does the enmity between Honor and Richard's sister - and boy can those two swap some memorable barbs. The scene where those two sat and played at cards and witty repartee as the rebels sacked Menabilly to its bare walls was just brilliant, as was the bit when Richard over indulged in dinner and wine and called the troops back after retiring - simply priceless.

All in all a very unusual love story and an interesting glimpse at a footnote in Cornish history. I’d love to see this one on film – the actors would have a field day. As for Menabilly, du Maurier rented from the home Rashleigh family and lived in it for some time and was the setting for her most famous novel, Rebecca. Five stars and now I'm off to find more of these almost long lost gems to put on the reading pile.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Mon February 9th, 2009, 1:59 pm

Great review and glad you liked it. The more I think about this book, the more I realize how much I liked it. Definitely one of those unforgettable ones with so many scenes that make an indelible impression.

I also loved the scene where Richard returns from Ireland and the Parliamentarians think he'll join up with them, but Richard handles it in typical larger-than-life, Richard fashion. The author's description was priceless.
Last edited by Ludmilla on Mon February 9th, 2009, 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Typo correction

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Mon February 9th, 2009, 2:06 pm

Richard was quite a flawed character wasn't he? I would start to love him to bits and then he'd turn on his son and ....... to the moon again. I'm glad you mentioned the book, I'd never have picked it up otherwise.

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Post by Ludmilla » Mon February 9th, 2009, 2:40 pm

It's an interesting character study, isn't it? One reads about Richard with a certain fascinated horror. I often found myself wondering if someone like Richard would have been more successful and appreciated in a less civilized time. He could be quite malicious to anyone he didn't respect, and he respected very few people. I think another author might have been tempted to white-wash his character, but I was absolutely spell-bound by her unapologetic depiction of him.

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Post by Misfit » Mon February 9th, 2009, 3:03 pm

He could be quite malicious to anyone he didn't respect, and he respected very few people.
And just when you're ready to string him up he'd say the sweetest things to Honor and I'd just be loving him again. Not quite Francis Lymond, but a very interesting, albeit flawed character. Here's a bit on Richard from Wik.

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