When the skeleton of a young cavalier was found by William Rashleigh at Daphne du Maurier's beloved mansion, Menabilly, she once again found inspiration in her surroundings. Putting pen to paper, Daphne created The King's General, a historical tale which takes place during the English Civil War and introduces one of du Maurier's greatest heroines: Honor Harris.
Honor is a beautiful, brave and kind protagonist, a true embodiment of the name by which she goes. Her journey proves challenging as her hopes for marrying the man she loves are dashed when she is left incapacitated. Unwilling to let life pass her by, Honor decides to educate herself in order to gain a true understanding of England's political climate and the devastating impact it would come to have.
Steadfast, caring and intelligent, this heroine embodies female empowerment and resilience in a war-torn England. Having finished the story during the Second World War, parallels are often drawn between Honor and du Maurier herself. Not only was the author describing the frustration of having to stay at home while men fought, through first-hand experience, but much like Honor's love interest, Daphne's husband was a general in the military.
An artful and escapist tale, The King's General reveals a gothic side to Daphne du Maurier's writing which constantly leaves the listener wanting more.
Whether she's up on stage, behind the microphone or in front of the camera, Juliet Stevenson never fails to charm her audience. Her acting roles have cemented her status as one of the great British actresses of our time. Her popular performances of hits such as Apple Tree Yard, the book that was turned into a TV series that people just couldn't stop talking about, have earned her an overwhelming amount of well-deserved praise for her spoken word talents
Juliet graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and later became a member of its artistic council. Her theatre experience is vast and includes parts in Measure for Measure, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Burn This and Death and the Maiden.
She is also known for her film career in works such as Bend It Like Beckham, Emma, Truly Madly Deeply and Mona Lisa Smile.
Juliet Stevenson has been BAFTA-nominated and been the winner of a Laurence Olivier Award. In 1999, she was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her services to Drama.
Juliet's other audiobook narrations include Sense and Sensibility, North and South, The Portrait of a Lady and Madame Bovary. These and many more can be found at Audible.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Maureen on 22-10-08
The King's General
This beautifully read novel kept me enthralled to the very last moment. Set during the English Civil war it tells the story of Honor Harris and Sir Richard Grenville with all their trials and tribulations. Each character in this book (and there are many) is well defined and brought to life through the excellent narration. Each time I decided to put it aside for the day I found myself wanting to listen to another chapter and then not wanting the book to end.
A great listen, perfect for those long, cold winter nights.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By Ingibjorg on 10-06-13
The King's General is set in Cornwall during the English Civil War, and tells the story of Honor Harris and her love for Sir Richard Grenvile, the “King’s General in the West.” It is a historical novel and a romance, albeit a very unusual type of romance. It is a fascinating and engrossing story, rich in historical detail, and du Maurier weaves an intricate plot that involves, among other things, the shifting loyalties and rivalries among the royalists in Cornwall, mysterious sounds in the night, and unexpected events. Du Maurier excels at building atmosphere and is equally gifted in evocative descriptions of scene and character. Sir Richard Grenvile is one of the most fascinating characters I have come across in fiction: while he is unscrupulous, arrogant and ruthless, he is also such a charming and interesting character. He has his tender moments, especially when with Honor by his side (no pun intended). Also there is quite a lot of subtle humour in du Maurier’s portrayal of the man; I often found myself chuckling when listening to his many impassioned speeches or du Maurier’s descriptions of his conduct. One can easily understand why Honor falls for Richard, yet one is equally frustrated with how much she puts up with from him through their relationship, once it has been renewed. Honor is a finely drawn character, strong, heroic and determined. Despite her disability (as she is herself wont to say, she is a “cripple”), she manages to take decisive action in times of crisis and keep people that she loves from harm, even if she is risking her own life by doing so.
I have to add here that Juliet Stevenson’s narration was superb & entirely engrossing.
(this review first published on Goodreads)
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Rebecarol on 24-05-08
"Generally" Good, pun intended
I listened to "The King's General" right before reading Ken Follett's "A Dangerous Fortune" and listening to these two books back-to-back clarified my evaluation of this one. "General" is historical fiction, but Follett plays in that genre too so I don't think the comparison is entirely unfair. Daphne Du Maurier is the superior writer-- some of her passages, descriptions, metaphors are memorably rendered. Follett is the more natural storyteller, he is able to establish a pace that keeps the reader engrossed, eager to find out what happens next. Du Maurier's characters are not *as* shallowly rendered as Follett's, but they're not characters that the reader establishes a true relationship with. Despite the fact that her book is written in the first person, which makes that relationship easier, I didn't ever fully embrace the characters as I do in the best of books. I don't think it matters that she is writing within the constraints of historical information and personalities as there is rich terrain to mine here. So I would give her four stars for the writing itself, three for characterization and plot. The reader is very good, the story is interesting but not compelling. Good, not great whether you love to read about English history or not.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
By Leslie Ross on 18-06-10
Not Du Maurier's Finest Hour.
The King's General seems distanced from itself.
Daphne Du Maurier's work usually sweeps me into its world. This one, however, didn't.
In fact, my sense was that Du Maurier herself never really sank into this book when she was writing it. Her use of language is as masterful as ever- but the "feel" of the book, the tone and emotion that giving subtext to her words, is somehow distracted and "off."
This perplexed me, so I did a little digging (thanks, Wikipedia) and gathered some information that might interest you, if you are considering purchasing The King's General.
The book was published in 1946. It was the book Du Maurier was writing when her husband, "Boy" Browning, was away serving in the war.
The King's General is told by a character named Honor Harris, who is in love with Sir Richard Grenville, a Royalist general in the Civil War. In any given chapter, Honor Harris describes waiting for news of the war, worrying about her lover, the brief bursts of happiness when the war permits them to spend time together, and the deprivation and Spartan provisions of life during war time. These are undoubtedly topics Daphne Du Maurier was experiencing and thinking of in war-time Britain.
Honor Harris also spends parts of the Civil War at the house, Menabilly, which three centuries later would be the Du Mauriers home. I imagine Daphne Du Maurier writing The King's General to pass the time, to detach from her own worries about World War II by researching and writing this story about a different war.
So that made me the book, a little.
But, frankly, it's not her best work. It's a book written by an excellent writer when her real thoughts were elsewhere.
So keep that in mind. It ain't a great book, but if you're interested in Cornish history, the Civil War, or if you're waiting for a loved one to return home from war, it may be just the right book.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful