The Loving Spirit, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


Cornwall, 1900s. Plyn Boat Yard is a hive of activity, and Janet Coombe longs to share in the excitement of seafaring: to travel, to have adventures, to know freedom. But constrained by the times, instead she marries her cousin Thomas, a boat builder, and settles down to raise a family.Janet's loving spirit - the passionate yearning for adventure and for love - is passed down to her son, and through him to his children's children. As generations of the family struggle against hardship and loss, their intricately plotted history is set against the greater backdrop of war and social change in Britain. Her debut novel, The Loving Spirit established du Maurier's reputation and style with an inimitable blend of romance, history and adventure.


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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

I fell in love with this book just pages into it. "The Loving Spirit" is Daphne Du Maurier's first novel and amazingly enough I liked it better than quite a few of her latter ones.The story is a very romantic tale told through four generations of the Coombe family. And the author has thusly broken it into four books to offset each generation. It's all about the sea and the land and what draws one to the sea and how it can be or become generational. She quotes Emily Bronte several times throughout the book and one can definitely see the influence of that author within this one. Book 1: Janet Coombe; the main character wishes she had been born a lad and wants the freedom to do all the things that are acceptable to lads but not lasses. She wants desperately to go to sea and only menfolk can go to sea. In this book she also tells of Janet and a much older male cousin becoming intimate friends, which is frowned upon by her father. Janet marries Thomas, a shipbuilder and as they have their family she develops a strange relationship with one of her sons, Joseph right from birth. It is as if they are tele-connected in some way that she is not with her other children.Book 2: Joseph Coombe; the main character in this book is the intimate son of Janet. He does what his mother wanted to do and could not. He becomes a sea faring man. He sails the seas in a family built ship named after his mother and called the "Janet Coombe". The figurehead is also a likeness of his mother. Joseph seems to feel his mother's presence with him as he is sailing.Book 3: Christopher Coombe; the main character in this book is the son of Joseph Coombe and desires, as his father wishes for him, to become a seafaring man and take over skippering the "Janet Coombe". However he finds it not to his liking and jumps ship in London. He works, marries, has children, and writes home about his life but his father cannot forgive him for abandoning the sealife and disowns him to self and family. His sister, after some many years writes to him of his father's sickness and Christopher decides to take his family and return home to Plyn, Cornwall.Book 4: Jennifer Coombe; the main character in this book, Jenny, is the daughter of Christopher Coombe and was only six years old when her father died. And yet it falls to her to bring the family back together to a productive life and to finish the "Coombe" saga.This is a romantic, adventure of the highest kind. There is something for everyone in this book. I loved it and cannot wait to read it again one day soon.

Review by

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.

Review by

Janet Coombe is a victim of her time and gender. She longs to know the wildness and freedom of the sea-faring life, but in Cornwall of the early 1800s, all that Janet may do is marry and raise a family. She ends up marrying her cousin, a staid ship-builder and raising six children with him. Janet is overjoyed when her boy Joseph, fulfills her secret dreams and becomes a sailor, eventually captaining his own ship - a ship built by his brothers - named the Janet Coombe. Through the trials, tribulations and tragedies which strike her family, Janet holds on to her lively and loving spirit and passes that on to the later generations. I really enjoyed this book, Daphne du Maurier's debut novel. I give it an A+!

Review by

This wonderful début novel from Dapne du Maurier, written in 1929 and first published in 1931, puts her on the map amongst the greatest of British writers. This story is set in du Maurier's beloved Cornwall, not far south from Plymouth. A story which spans generations of one particular family. What I love about this author's novels are the settings, the descriptions which always evoke visualisation for me. I could see Janet Coombe standing on the clifftop, I could see her son Joseph commanding his schooner, his brothers running the boatyard and the mean, dispirited younger brother Philip Coombe dishing out his malice. Without giving away too much detail and posting spoilers, I won't divulge anymore. However, we are given the history of the Coombe's from Janet as a young maid about to marry through to her great granddaughter, Jennifer. As the story unfolds, we get to know the strong, longing for the sea that runs through the generations. I picked this copy up in the library sale for 20 pence, it was the first time I had heard of this book written by du Maurier. Not one of the well known novels such as Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek and Jamaica Inn, but well worth reading, particularly for fans of this author.

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