The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will relieve the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for a life of honest love - and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. Dona flees London for remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds there the passion her spirit craves - in the love of a daring pirate hunted across Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy.
Dona feels trapped by her gender, her age, her life so she takes her children and runs away to Cornwall, her husband's property not seen in years. There, she finds gossip of a french pirate terrorising this part of the coast.
Nearing thirty, Dona wanted more out of life and I loved this about her, it made her come across as such a modern woman, considering when this novel is set. She loved her life, her family but wanted more; her court life, the socialising and dinner parties, boring small talk, I can understand how it was sucking the life out of her - god, it was unbearably boring! And her husband, while caring, did not understand her at all.
Then she meets the Frenchman, the pirate captain. With him, Dona feels alive again. It wasn't just the possibility to love, it was the romanticism of piracy, literally running for your life and having no restrictions nor responsibilities. It was thrilling, leaving her standard life for a few hours and having nothing but the boat and her captain and crew to rely on.
While I did really like this, it was almost missing something after the dark thrills of Rebecca. Having said that, the second half was much better than the first, when Dona shed her inhibitions and just did what she wished. It was pure romance, getting swept off her feet, and it was lovely to read Dona and her pirate find love and new life.
Published 16th July 2016 by Virago. First published 1941.