The Loving Spirit

The Loving Spirit

by Daphne du Maurier


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In her acclaimed debut, celebrated author Daphne du Maurier weaves a stunning tale of heartbreaking loss and undying love that knows no bounds. Janet, a fearless young woman of soaring strength, longs for the wildness and freedom of the sea. She feels herself pulled fast under its spell, yet she sacrifices her dreams in order to create a family. Years later, when she learns of her beloved son's passion for the sea, Janet's spirit awakens, haunting her family and stirring a chain of events that changes them forever.

Set in a rapturous creation of the Cornish countryside, The Loving Spirit is filled with adventure, courage, and an abiding sense of the romantic.

Bonus Reading Group Guide Included

Praise for Daphne du Maurier:

"Daphne du Maurier has no equal." - Sunday Telegraph

"[du Maurier] tells a story because it's a good story, because it has something of beauty in it, and therefore of truth. She pictures life itself rather than all the dark and torturous currents that twist below its surface... Miss du Maurier's book is a grand one."
- Chicago Tribune

Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca made her one of the most successful writers of her time. Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of the book won the Best Picture Oscar in 1940. He later used her material for The Birds. In 1969, du Maurier was created a Dame of the British Empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402220050
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 05/01/2010
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca made her one of the most successful writers of her time. Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of the book won the Best Picture Oscar in 1940. He later used her material for The Birds. In 1969, du Maurier was created a Dame of the British Empire.

Read an Excerpt

Janet Coombe stood on the hill above Plyn, looking down upon the harbour. Although the sun was already high in the heavens, the little town was still wrapped in an early morning mist. It clung to Plyn like a thin pale blanket, lending to the place a faint whisper of unreality as if the whole had been blessed by the touch of ghostly fingers. The tide was ebbing, the quiet waters escaped silently from the harbour and became one with the sea, unruffled and undisturbed. No straggling cloud, no hollow wind broke the calm beauty of the still white sky.

For one instant a gull hovered in the air, stretching his wide wings to the sun, then cried suddenly and dived, losing itself in the mist below. It seemed to Janet that this hillside was her own world, a small planet of strange clarity and understanding; where all troublous thoughts and queer wonderings of the heart became soothed and at rest.

The white mist buried the cares and doubts of daily life, and with them all vexatious duties and the dull ways of natural folk. Here on the hilltop was no mist, no place of shadows, but the warm comfort of the noon-day sun.

There was a freedom here belonging not to Plyn, a freedom that was part of the air and the sea; like the glad tossing of the leaves in autumn, and the shy fluttering wings of a bird. In Plyn it was needful to run at another's bidding, and from morn till night there were the cares and necessities of household work-helping here, helping there, encouraging those around you with a kindly word, and sinful it was to expect one in return. And now she was to become a woman, and step on to the threshold of a new life, so the preacher had told her. Maybe it would change her, and sorrow would come her way and joy also for that matter, but if she held an everlasting faith in God who is the Father of us all, in the end she would know peace and the sight of Heaven itself. It was best to follow these righteous words though it seemed that the road to Heaven was a hard long road, and there were many who fell by the way and perished for their sins.

The preacher spoke truth indeed, but with never a word of the lovable things that clung about the heart. God alone is worthy of great love. Here on the hill the solemn sheep slept alongside of one another in the chill nights, the mother protected her young ones from the stealthy fox who steals in the shadow of the hedge-even the tall trees drew together in the evening for comfort's sake. Yet none of these things know the love for God, said the preacher.

It might happen that he did not know the truth of every bird, beast and flower, and that they too were immortal as well as human kind.

Janet knelt beside the stream, and touched a pale forgotten primrose that grew wistfully near the water's edge. A blackbird called from the branch above her head, and flew away, scattering the white blossom on her hair. The flaming gorse bushes breathed in the sun, filling the air with a rich sweet scent, a medley of honey and fresh dew.

It was Janet Coombe's wedding day. Even now her mother would be preparing the feast for the guests that were to come, and her sisters laying her fine wedding gown upon the bed with longing awesome hands. Soon the bells would peal over to Lanoc Church, and she and Cousin Thomas, her dear husband that was to be, would stand before the Altar and be made one in the eyes of God. Thomas's eyes would be lowered with beseeming reverence, and he would hearken to the good words of the preacher; but Janet knew her eyes would escape to the glint of pure light that shone through the Church window, and her heart would travel out across the sunbeam to the silent hills.

The wedding service would seem dim and unreal, like the town of Plyn in the morning mist, and try as she could, she would not be able to listen when she herself was elsewhere. It was the sinful soul in her that came not at the preacher's bidding; sinful and wayward as it had always been, since the days when she had been no more than a mite of a child, way back at her mother's knee.

For her sisters had attended school good and proper, and had learnt to sew and to read, but Janet was forever playing truant, away on the beach beyond the harbour. She would stand on the high crumbling cliffs, inside the ruin of the old Castle, and watch the brown sails of the Penlivy luggers that glittered on the far horizon.

"Please God, make me a lad afore I'm grown," she would pray, and her no larger than a boot, with curls hanging round her neck. Her mother would scold her and beat her, and chide her for a great lump of a boy with heathenish ways, but it was all of no avail. Her mother might have spared the rod for the good it did her.

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The Loving Spirit 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thinking i had read everything by Daphne du Maurier, I was surprised tp come upon this unknown title. The story is slow going at first but stick with it. It becomes a lovely tale of kindred spirits reborn through the generations of a family, seeking fulfillment in life and love. It is Bronte-esque in the writing but not quite as gothic. So glad I came upon it.
rainpebble on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
An eerie, gothic tale of intermarriage, near incestuous  love, communication among living and dead, foretelling futures, of water, the open sea, sailing vessels  and much more, Daphne du Maurier's THE LOVING SPIRIT may be the most unforgettable first novel that you will ever read. * * *   Daphne du Maurier (1907 - 1989) was only 22 in January 1930 when she penned the final words  of THE LOVING SPIRIT. One day she would also write  REBECCA, "The Birds," FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, THE SCAPEGOAT and other works of history, geography, fiction, biography, short stories and verse.  * * *   Daphne in personal life and spirit both loving and unloving will appear in work after written work. She is fascinated by incest, comparing her loving relationship to her actor father Gerald and an older married cousin to that of three Borgias: Pope Alexander VI and his illegitimate children Cesare and Lucrezia. Du Maurier believes that families embody ancestors for generations. She finds in herself traces of her novelist grandfather George du Maurier. For Daphne ancestral love will not be denied by death or time if that ancestor looks after family that comes after him or her. She resents having been born a girl and hopes until puberty that she will turn into a boy. For boys have all the adventures and can do mighty deeds. At the same time Daphne du Maurier accepts that incest is not a realistic option and that the pragmatic ideal is chaste s marriage between one man and one woman.  ***   All these themes and love of particular locales and family houses are powerfully present in THE LOVING SPIRIT.   * * *   In 1830 Janet Coombe marries her second cousin Thomas Coombe. In 1930, at novel's end, third cousins  Jennifer Coombe and John Stevens, each a great grandchild of Janet and Thomas, have married and produced a son. And over that couple and the two intervening generations between their great grandparents Janet Coombe has been a loving, protecting at times bossy guiding family spirit. Janet greatly loved her second cousin husband but always knew that an even greater love would be hers. And that proved to be between her and her sea captain son Joseph, described as as sensuous and fleshy as possible this side of incest. Joseph's unhappy son Christopher becomes the father of Jennifer Coombe, Janet's fiery great granddaughter married to a third cousin, Janet's great grandson John Stevens.  * * *   The family villain is Philip (born 1839, died 1928). Philip is youngest of four sons of Janet and Thomas Coombe. Janet  finds Philip cold, detached, alien to her blood. Consulting neither parent, Philip becomes "an office boy in the shipbroking firm of Hogg and Williams" in the family's Cornwall coastal village of Plyn" (Book One, Ch. XII). Never marrying, miserly Philip amasses  wealth and power. He makes life as miserable as he can for other members of the Coombe family who thwart him.  * * *    Read of The Janet Coombe, a fleet two-masted sailing vessel built to honor the novel's guiding female spirit. On her relatively early death, Janet's spirit transfers to the carved wooden figurehead before the bow of her ship. Decades later great grandchildren Jennifer and John will meet below decks on the beached wreck of The Janet Coombe and make love. Throughout, the spirit of their ancestress lives on. Indeed young Jennifer is the living image of Janet as Janet looked a full century earlier.  What a grand first novel!  -OOO-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and found the spirit of Emily Bronte on every page.
LadyJanis More than 1 year ago
I read du Maurier's, "Rebecca" and loved it...did not like this book at all...has incestuous tones about a mother and son...slow reading.