The King's General

The King's GeneralThe King s General, Daphne du Maurier The King s General is a novel, published in 1946, by English author and playwright Daphne du Maurier The novel is set at the time of the English Civil War A middle aged Honor Harris narrates the story of her youth, from the age of ten, when living with her brother Robin The narrative begins when Kit, Honor s oldest brother, brings home his new bride, Gartred After only three years, Kit dies of smallpox and Gartred moves away At age eighteen, Honor meets Richard Grenvile, Gartred s brother They fall in love and, despite a former arrangement for Honor to marry another, they decide to be married Honor is injured and loses the use of her legs in a riding accident, when out with Richard and Gartred Subsequently, Honor refuses to marry or even see Richard By the time the Civil War breaks out, fifteen years have passed Honor has grown in independence, and Richard has had three children, Joe, born illegitimately from an affair with a dairymaid Dick, from a failed marriage and Dick s sister, who lives in Holland and is not really part of the story Following some nearby violence, Honor moves to Menabilly, the home of her sister and brother in law, where she again meets Richard, who is posted in Plymouth as a leader of the King s army in the west of England During the war, Richard is wounded, and Honor tends to him in his weakness The Parliamentarians take Cornwall, and Richard flees the country He is part of a Royalist rebellion, though, some years later He is betrayed it is suggested that the betrayer is his son Dick An escape plan is made to remove Richard and Dick safely from the Parliamentarians to Holland to be with Richard s daughter and Dick s sister, after the revolt fails Rumours of their escape which are told to Honor suggest that only Richard is able to escape, which brings the reader back to the prompt for Du Maurier s tale the skeleton discovered in the excavations of Menabilly 1976 400 1383. Alternate Cover Available HereHonor Harris Is Only When She First Meets Richard Grenvile, Proud, Reckless And Utterly Captivating But Following A Riding Accident, Honor Must Reconcile Herself To A Life Alone As Richard Rises Through The Ranks Of The Army, Marries And Makes Enemies, Honor Remains True To Him, And Finally Discovers The Secret Of Menabilly This book started so compulsive and enticing and delicious But somewhere it bogged down into a relatively plodding glimpse of the English Civil War The sexy thrill of the early chapters was never recaptured, and the promise of drama and derring do never really fulfilled du Maurier is great at creating a world, but this time she didn t quite seem to have the dramatic plot twist to go with her build up. Fantastic historical novel set during the English civil war in the 15th century No one writes a story quite like du Maurier Once I pick up a Daphne du Maurier novel, I tend to find I can t stop reading until I either fall asleep or reach the end Sometimes, I begin to get a headache from eye strain or simply must stop to take care of my own life in the here and now She could really tell a story Auntie Daphne would have been the best person in the world to sit around the hearth with, on a cold winter s night And, of course, she wrote with such eloquence Even when I don t love the particular characters or themes, for whatever reason such as the last one I read, The Loving Spirit , I still find her writing utterly engrossing.What I especially like about The King s General is that it s a tale richly told by an unlikely heroine, not only for the times but even for today Honor Harris, in her own words, is a cripple , bound to a wheeled chair her brother has made for her But Honor is not a figure of pity She is the smartest person in the book, and does not try to hide her light under a bushel The other smartest person in the book is also a woman Honor s nemesis, Gartred Grenvile Harris Denys, who is a good match for Honor in brilliance, but who could be the lost twin of Maleficent Honor is not only smart, she is compassionate and wise, but in no way insipid or prone to easy sentiment Neither is Daphne du Maurier insipid or prone to easy sentiment, so the book does not allow us an easy or tidy ending, in which everyone waltzes off into the sunset It was a tough time, the 17th century, and even people who were comparatively wealthy and well bred had to cope with plagues and wars, illnesses and accidents for which there were no cures, and extremely high levels of mother and child mortality As for Honor, though, she lives up to her name very well indeed.I liked learning about the Cornish resistance from du Maurier s perspective during the English Civil War 1642 1651 The plot of the book centres upon this series of battles and how Honor and her beloved Richard Grenville, the King s General in the West, do their best to look after their homes and families and fellow countrymen, whilst taking a courageous stand against the rebels under the most trying of circumstances They were Royalists themselves, known as Cavaliers, loyal to the Crown The story was fascinating and thrilling to read, not least because the bold Sir Richard continues to shower love and romance on Honor, despite her being left paraplegic due to a horse riding accident on the day they were meant to be married, and therefore refusing to marry him She does not want him to feel bound to her since she is unable to function fully and can never bear children Also, she feels that he would, over time, grow to resent her for being a burden to him But, as Richard well knows, there s only one Honor, and it is she whom he loves best This romance is made intriguing by the fact that Richard is loathed by nearly everyone in the book except Honor for, while he is a cunning and fearless military leader who s considered indispensable to defending the Crown, he is a hard and often cruel man who lacks pity and shows no mercy to the rebels, or to any who crosses him, or even to his own son Only Honor ever sees the tenderness in him, for she alone seems to provoke it It is not that she is blind to his faults, nor does she ever pretend to be it is that she loves him all the same The King s General is well paced, beautifully atmospheric, wonderfully mysterious, and capable of taking your breath away at times I can think of only a handful of writers who evoke a setting as well as Daphne du Maurier the Bronte sisters among them, who come to mind because there are many comparisons one could make between Richard Grenvile, Rochester, and Heathcliff.With du Maurier s talent for description, I find that reading even a simple graceful passage in a rather calm few pages can give me goosebumps.I have seen too the sea mists of early summer turn the hill to fantasy, so that it becomes, in a single second, a ghost land of enchantment, with no sounds coming but the wash of breakers on the hidden beach, where, at high noon, the children gather cowrie shells Dark moods too of bleak November, when the rain sweeps in a curtain from the south west But, quietest of all, the evenings of late summer, when the sun has set, and the moon has not yet risen, but the dew is heavy in the long grass The sea is very white and still, without a breath upon it, and only a single thread of wash upon the covered Cannis rock The jackdaws fly homeward to their nests in the warren The sheep crop the short turf, before they too rub together beneath the stone wall by the winnowing place Dusk comes slowly to the Gribben hill, the woods turn black, and suddenly, with stealthy pad, a fox creeps from the trees in the thistle park, and stands watching me, his ears pricked p.227 Rating Clarification 4.5 StarsI knew I was going to love this book even before I picked it up For one thing, it s by Daphne duMaurier, which means it s going to be top notch fiction Secondly, it s set during a time period I really enjoy Thirdly, my GR friends all rated it 4 or 5 stars between them, these ladies know their historical fiction, so for all of them to rate it high was confirmation that this was going to be a winner.I wasn t disappointed DuMaurier s tale set in Cornwall during the English Civil War had everything I love about sweeping historical fiction fascinating characters, a historically detailed storyline, characters that aren t perfect in fact are often unlikable , and a love story that wasn t conventional in the least The King s General is a story so engrossing that after I finished it I referred to some of my personal reference books and googled the net to learn about some of the real life people in the novel like Richard Grenville and Honor Harris The most intriguing part of this story for me was the fact that duMaurier wrote it while she was living in Menabilly the house of this story and the prototype of Manderley from her most famous novel, Rebecca In fact, it was a true and eerie sidenote to this house s history view spoiler skeletal remains of a man in Cavalier dress were found in the walls of the house in the early 1800 s hide spoiler I have read at least a handful of Daphne s books plan on reading all at some point She was has you wondering where she is going with the story I was quite surprised as usuasl A great historical read.Many times I go into a book without knowing anything about the story but knowing that the author is a favorite of mine, such is The King s General by Daphne du Maurier I rarely even read a foreword before reading a book but generally read it after I am glad I continue this practice because even though the person writing the foreword said she did not want to spoil the story, if I read her comments I would know something that would take away the surprise for me As I was reading I do as I generally do look up everything I am unfamiliar with including people places What I noticed soon on that many of the characters are real once again while reading a book I had a history lesson, and in this case the English Civil War Having read Mary Elizabeth Braddon s London Pride years ago which was also during this era in English history but Daphne s story which she had assistance by two historians, one having the same name Rasheigh as the family in her book Some of battles people during this time in history are fictionalized without truly departing from history She was disappointed that the historical battle aspect did not receive the praise it desired Not to worry Daphne, I was very much impressed My reading friend Julie told me that Daphne s husband was a general after hearing that you can so see it in her story They say write what you know she was privy to being a close partner to a warrior This is classified as Gothic historical romance but it is a different kind of romance a la Daphne If you are not one who even likes one ounce of fighting war planning in a book, you would probably not be too happy because this book has much of that than romance but there is plenty of drama the romantic parts are quite touching I do like a book that includes fighting that has than just war but all aspects of human characters feelings that are brought about this book has both that intertwined together to make for a wonderful read I find this period in English history quite interesting, as they oust the king behead him but yet after austere command of the parliament reign under Crommel, they welcome a king back I have heard how brutal war was during those times Daphne gives a taste of how war effects not just the warriors but the people at home In Rebecca Manderley is based on the Rashleigh s Menabilly an historic estate in Cornwall, England which Daphne was granted a lease to restore in 1943 she lived there until 1969 which after she returned to the Rashleighs.The main characters are the Harris the Grenville families in Cornwall, England Marriage unites this family romances ties them together to the very end Honor Harris, the young girl who grows up quite spoiled diffident but yet loved by all her siblings is an older woman letting us know her secret that has been buried inside her for years She writes about her kinsman other families before during the English Civil War the love of her life The estate has a gothic structure with some eerie discoveries Excerpts I knew then, as I peered forth from the curtains of my litter, that war can make beasts of every one of us, and that the men and women of my own breed could act even worse in warfare than the men and women of the eastern countries We had, each one of us, because of the civil war, streaked back two centuries in time, and were become like those half savages of the fourteen hundreds who, during the Wars of the Roses, slit each other s throats without compunction Yet none of them, gazing at the King s portrait, dreamed of blaming him for the trouble that had come upon them God knows I had no sympathy for the rebels, who each one of them was out feathering his own nest and building up a fortune, caring nothing for the common people whose lot they pretended would be bettered by their victory, but nor could I, in my heart, recognize the King as the fountain of all truth, but thought of him always as a stiff, proud man, small in intelligence as he was in stature, yet commanding, by his grace of manner, his dignity, and his moral virtue, a wild devotion in his followers that sprang from their warm hearts and not their reason I thought then of all the things that I would want to bring before him How he was not infallible, and never had been, and that this stroke of Fate was a grim reminder of the fact His own harsh measures to the enemy had been repaid, measure for measure Cruelty begat cruelty, betrayal gave birth to treachery, the qualities that he had fostered in himself these past years were now recoiled upon him A year has come and gone, and though we are defeated we live, we still survive I am lonely, yes, but that has been my portion since I turned eighteen And loneliness has compensations Better to live inwardly alone than together in constant fear. As a fan of Rebecca and someone who is very interested in the English Civil War and the huge social upheavals it caused, I wanted to love this book, but sadly could not in the end It has some interesting elements, and the author does manage to make the disability of her viewpoint character, Honor Harris, work, but the first part at least could have been set in Victorian times Only when we reach the section where view spoiler the house of Menabily is sacked by the Parliamentary troops hide spoiler Time heals all wounds, say the complacent, but I think it is not so much time that does it as determination of the spirit And the spirit can often turn to devil in the darkness Du Maurier is an exceptional storyteller, I ll give her that This is a fascinating glimpse into one of the darker and lesser known facets of history the people s experience of the English Civil War The King s General is charged throughout with a clear love of the Cornish landscape and its history in my opinion, it is primarily a heartfelt recognition of the suffering of its people rather than a romance The historical detail was at times dry and plodding the lengthy passages describing military strategy and the outcomes of each battle were exhaustive towards the end of the novel, I began skim reading those sections The redeeming quality of the novel for me was the characters Du Maurier is quite possibly the best at characterisation Honor Harris is genuinely one of the best heroines I ve come across she s spirited, witty, brave and perseveres with her life despite a devastating injury The irascible but enticing Richard Grenvile was a fascinatingly appalling love interest and the sexual thrill early within their dynamic was completely tangible Is it bad that my favourite character was by far the promiscuous and detestable Gartred The interaction between Gartred and Honor was absolutely fantastic I wish I was that good at passive aggressive comebacks.Ultimately this didn t quite stand up to the extraordinary suspense of du Maurier s other works the twist fell a little flat for me and left me relatively unsatisfied. I had had this book on my shelf for quite a long time, bought it in impulse after having read Rebecca three years ago and having fallen in love with Du Maurier s captivating writing style.I didn t seem to find the right moment to plunge into it, even after the disappointment I had with The loving spirit , Du Maurier s first novel.Haven t I been losing time by reading far mediocre books these past years The King s General is a book which has it all A haunting castle which reminded me of Manderley quite dearly, a strong and unusual heroine, and a most of the time hated hero History, love and mystery mix together creating a unique setting for this novel.Honor and Richard, a couple which are never truly together but who remain faithful to each other in their own ways Honor Harris, the main character, falls in love with Richard, a soldier with dubious reputation, when she is barely eighteen He is taken with her innocence and the way she looks at life, fair and strong willed in all her actions, Honor takes the best out of Richard.When their life together is about to really start, Honor suffers an accident while horse riding and she is left crippled for the rest of her life, this misfortune making an even much stronger woman of her as she casts Richard away for his own sake, sacrificing her own happiness and getting prepared for a life of solitude, a punishment she is ready to bear, with pride and elegance.What she isn t prepared for is to meet Richard, ten years after the accident, when he has become a key figure in the Civil War fighting for his King, and find her passion for him still alive And Richard, much corrupted by time and bitterness finds his only calming balm in Honor s sensible reasoning and understanding.Honor becomes then Richard s only and true confidant and plays an important role in the events that take place in Cornwall during the Civil War, taking in all of Richard s flaws with unconditional love and devotion, but always being true to her inner sense of justice I never thought I could enjoy a book about war and political strategy as much as I did enjoy this one.Expect twists and turns and some lessons during this awesome ride, one you shouldn t miss for the world.Don t wait any, go get it and read it on the spot

If Daphne du Maurier had written only Rebecca, she would still be one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination Few writers have created magical and mysterious places than Jamaica Inn and Manderley, buildings invested with a rich character that gives them a memorable life of their own.In many ways the life of Daphne du Maurier resembles a fairy tale Born into a

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  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • The King's General
  • Daphne du Maurier
  • English
  • 09 November 2017
  • 9781844080892

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