Review 1466: Vanishing Cornwall

Over the years, I have read most of the novels written by Daphne du Maurier, but when I made up my current Classics Club list, I came across this work of nonfiction. It’s the book I read for the most recent Classics Club Spin.

Vanishing Cornwall is a little hard to describe. Du Maurier made her principal residence in Cornwall for many years, and I guess I would call this book an appreciation.

She starts out by traveling around the area with her son to take photographs from each of the Hundreds of Cornwall. So, the book is in small part a travel book. But as it progresses from region to region, aside from lyrical descriptions and photos of the scenery, du Maurier includes stories from history and folk lore. Toward the end of the book, she switches to chapters on specific topics, like fishing or free-trading, associated with Cornwall.

She ends with a conservation message, at the time a concern to preserve the area’s beauty while finding some way to help support the locals. I have never been to Cornwall, but I would imagine that some of what she has to say is out of date now, as it was even between 1967, when the book was first published, and 1980, the date of my edition, which switched out the original black and white photos for colored ones and added an epilogue. She does tend to romanticize some subjects, and her assertions such as the one that King Arthur did actually exist are a little more in doubt now.

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9 thoughts on “Review 1466: Vanishing Cornwall

  1. Silvia January 30, 2020 / 11:39 am

    Interesting. I didn’t know she had this one, and another one half memoirs called The Parasites, huh.

    • whatmeread January 30, 2020 / 2:39 pm

      I think I read that one a long time ago.

  2. Helen January 30, 2020 / 2:56 pm

    I’ve read most of du Maurier’s novels too, but only one or two of her non-fiction books and not this one. It sounds interesting, even if some of it might be out of date now.

    • whatmeread January 30, 2020 / 3:28 pm

      Yes, I enjoyed it, and she is always a good writer.

  3. Liz Dexter January 31, 2020 / 2:40 am

    I’ve got two of hers to read for DDM Reading Week in May but haven’t previously read her at all. I know Cornwall fairly well (especially the far West) so I think I’d find this interesting historically both in the history she recounts and the time she was writing it.

    • whatmeread January 31, 2020 / 11:10 am

      Jamaica Inn is one of her most famous novels set in Cornwall.

  4. Jane January 31, 2020 / 1:57 pm

    love the sound of this!

  5. explorenewness February 1, 2020 / 2:02 pm

    Thanks for introducing me to this book…I’m a fan of Daphne du Maurier but I haven’t heard of this one before. Plus I need to officially write up my classic list!

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