Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Visiting the shipwreck at Polridmouth Bay, as 'Daphne' sails to America...


Polridmouth Bay -- as du Maurier fans will know -- is the beach on the edge of the Menabilly estate, along the coastal footpath from Fowey, before it rises up to the Gribbin. It's also recognisable as the beach in 'Rebecca' -- at the end of the path from Manderley to the sea, where Rebecca visits her boat-house, and also where the ship-wreck occurs that plays such a pivotal part in the plot of the novel.
When du Maurier published 'Rebecca' in 1938, she hadn't yet moved into Menabilly -- indeed, as I've already written (in this blog and elsewhere), this was the house that Rebecca rebuilt, in that Daphne used the money she made from the novel in order to lease and restore Menabilly, which was her original inspiration for the story. But she had already seen the wreck at Polridmouth, when she was staying nearby at Ferryside -- subsequently evoked with such drama in 'Rebecca' -- and at low tide, you can still see the remains of that wreck on the rocks. I've been there many times in the past, and seen its bones, like a skeleton only partially submerged in the water -- just like in the opening pages of my book -- but until now, I've never been able to get close enough to touch it.
Polridmouth still feels to me like a slightly melancholy place, especially when the clouds cast shadows over it, but my family disagree (they think I read too much into it; which is perhaps an inevitable consequence of my time researching 'Daphne'). Anyway, here are some pictures...
Oh, and by the way, 'Daphne' is out in America today. Here's a review in the Los Angeles Times. I do hope the book sails peacefully into new waters...

20 comments:

oxford-reader said...

Boat wrecks are so fascinating to look at - and this one holds so much history. Daphne wrote a lot about them in general didn't she - not just in 'Rebecca'?
I saw the American front cover for your book recently - I was a bit confused by the red umbrella until you mentioned Daphne's interest in the colour at Dartington, then it all made sense! (And English cover most definitley red ...)
Molly looks like she's found something interesting amongst the rusting pieces ...

Justine Picardie said...

Yes, the red umbrella... Not quite sure what to say about that, aside from the observation that red is significant in du Maurier's writing. (Red for Rebecca...)

Justine Picardie said...

PS. Not sure what Molly had found amidst the wreck. A crab? An interesting piece of seaweed? Back in London, she is pining for the wide open spaces...

Gondal-girl said...

What a lovely review Justine, best of luck with the US launch, here's a metaphoric champagne bottle smashed over the Daphne prow, as it makes its way...

love the photos, very lovely indeed. The wreck looks like a giant key, an old can with key turning abilities, a sculpture, and I have to say Molly is adorable, like Nipper the Dog from HMV

Justine Picardie said...

It's a very sculptural wreck, isn't it? And I will pass on the compliment to Molly, who is at this moment asleep, curled at my feet under the desk.

Miss Peckitt said...

The US cover is really quite haunting - very atmospheric! It reminded me instantly of the red coat in 'Don't Look Now'. So why is red so significant in Du Maurier's writing? Beautiful holiday photos as well, I have booked a week in the area over Christmas – really can’t wait!

Karen said...

I'm half way through "Daphne", loving every moment, (and our Mollie is asleep under my desk as I write).

Justine Picardie said...

Miss Peckitt -- welcome to the blog.Red, as you point out, is the colour of the coat in "Don't Look Now", and it's also associated with Rebecca, who is a scarlet woman, and also fiery in her desire for freedom, rising like a phoenix from the grave (even the ocean cannot quench her).
Karen, so glad you like the book -- and equally glad you have a Mollie under the desk!

Justine Picardie said...

PS. Hence the red of my book jacket, and the engraving of leaves that might also be flames...

Adina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adina said...

Ok... I don't know what this website is and if I'm even at the right site... Could someone please tell me if I would still enjoy reading Daphne if I never read The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte? Do I must read TIWOBB first to get the full enjoyment out of Picardie's Daphne? Or do you think if I read Daphne first and THEN I read TIWOBB it might be even more enjoyable? Help!

oxford-reader said...

I'd say you wouldn't have to read 'The Infernall world of Branwell Bronte' before reading 'Daphne'. They are very much two separate entities ... don't know what other people think though?

Miss Peckitt said...

I hadn't read 'The Infernal World of BB' before reading 'Daphne' and I just loved Daphne so I agree - it's not necessary to have read 'The Infernal...' I have since read 'The Infernal...' and very much enjoyed that too - especially with the atmosphere of 'Daphne' still in mind.

oxford-reader said...

It's interesting you liked 'The Infernal ...' Miss Peckitt - I read it, and although I loved the beginning, I thought that by halfway, Daphne had become fustrated with the failures of Branwell and just given up on him ... I don't think it sparkles as much as the first section.

Justine Picardie said...

As the author of 'Daphne', I don't think you'd need to read the Infernal World of Branwell Bronte in order to enjoy my novel.Of course, I'm delighted if people do go and read Infernal World afterwards -- it's an interesting book, that has been largely overlooked. But don't feel you have to...

Adina said...

Oh my gosh... I'm actually on the website where the author POSTS messages? Wow! Thank you so much for reassuring me that I don't need to read TIWOBB first, because I really wanted to read it second. I saw a tiny picture of your book with a book review in a magazine last month (I can't remember which one) and I couldn't wait to order it from Amazon. I'm a very picky reader, unfortunately, and unless the plot sounds brilliant to me, I wouldn't even give it a try if the book was for free. In the case of Daphne, it was $17 that I am thrilled to have spent. It's a real honor to hear the opinion of the author on the best reading route to take... WOW. Thanks for your time, and I can't wait to let you know how my reading experience went.

HelenMH said...

Good luck to Daphne in America x

Justine Picardie said...

Adina -- really hope you enjoy the book. You'll find lots about it on this blog, in past comments and posts, if you have time to browse.

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Deborah said...

Does anyone know the story of the wreck? I searched the web and have quite a large collection of books on Cornwall but can find no mention of it - it is even new to me that Daphne knew it and it inspired her.

My friend filmed it but the images all stuttered so he turned it into an abstract; it's here if you want to see it but it's not for those who like pretty pictures - although you do get an idea of the wonderful colours it has: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Arhk4YrarGw