I decided to pick this up for the Underhyped Reads readathon as, aside from her big 4 novels, all of her published works have under 5000 ratings on goodreads and as I wanted to read more from her I thought this was a perfect excuse.
The Loving Spirit was du Maurier’s first novel and, wow. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this woman, she is just beyond words. I picked this one as it was her début novel and what better way to work through her bibliography than chronologically?! This really didn’t feel like a 400 page novel, I just sped through it. du Maurier is just so wonderful at creating an atmosphere, I don’t think there’s anyone quite as good at it as she is. She’s one of these authors that just writes a scene so vividly it has a tendency to consume you, the air is crisp and you can almost taste the sea air and there is just a magic to her writing what is hard to compare anything to.
The plot itself I didn’t really have any idea about. Truthfully, there wasn’t much of a plot to be had. This book simply covers the life story of four generations of a family in a Cornish fishing village. But the lack in plot allows for one of the most wonderful character studies I’ve ever read. We start with Janet, then her son Joseph, his son Christopher and finally his daughter Jennifer and we follow them. Each of them searching for his or her own way in the world, that missing part of their soul which completes them. The way this unfolds is just wonderful.
I’m not normally a fan of a family saga type book, I much prefer a book to focus in on one character and be done with it but this, this was different. I think it’s because each of the focus characters went from open to close quite well and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Some of it was jumpy; but I can forgive her that. Ultimately it was just amazing. It wasn’t Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel but it was wonderful in it’s own right and it just shows what an amazing writer this woman is.
The book was given it’s title from a poem by Emily Bronte and there are large parallels between this novel and Wuthering Heights. Janet is very much like Cathy and her son Joseph has a lot of similarities to Heathcliff. There is definitely a lot of influence from Bronte in this novel, more so than in her later works which were also heavily influenced by them.
Yes. Ultimately this was fantastic. I’d maybe not start here with du Maurier, but definitely recommend it to someone who has already fallen a little in love with the woman.
This is a very solid 4/5 for me.