Thursday, 22 July 2010
What lies beneath
If anyone is going to Port Eliot, I can also be found on Saturday afternoon in the Round Room, in conversation with Nicholas St Aubyn. He has been researching the story of a lost treasure, a Tudor shipwreck, and the history of his family home, St Michael's Mount, which is surely one of the loveliest places in Cornwall. So tonight I am trying to gather my thoughts, and cast my mind back to 'Daphne' and Menabilly and other Cornish landscapes, both fictional and otherwise... I'm starting by re-reading my introduction to Du Maurier's novel of Cornish history, 'The King's General', set in Menabilly in the 17th century during the Civil War. As always with Du Maurier, her first lines are swift to conjure the mood of what will unfold, as well as her striking sense of place:
'September, 1653. The last of summer. The first chill winds of autumn. The sun no longer strikes my eastern window as I wake, but, turning laggard, does not top the hill before eight o'clock. A white mist hides the bay sometimes until noon, and hangs about the marshes too, leaving, when it lifts, a breath of cold air behind it...'