The Doll by Daphne du Maurier
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / British / 1930s / 1940s / Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (11/22/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: Yes!
One-sentence summary: Thirteen quirky, creepy, humorous, and atmospheric short stories by the author of Rebecca.
Reading Challenges: British Books
Do I like the cover?: I think so -- it sort of creepies me out, which is good, but this book is more dark humor than dark horror, so I don't know if it fits entirely...
I'm reminded of...: Anaïs Nin, Dorothy Parker
First line: No one can call me an insensitive woman. From 'The Limpet'
Did... I cackle with delight more than once?: YES. Du Maurier's sharp look at clergy and couples was hilarious and right on target, and I snickered like a weirdo on the train because it was that good.
Did... I make my wife read this immediately after I finished?: YES. I had to share my delight, and these breezy stories can be read very quickly. They're like bonbons!
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow -- this is a marvelously diverting collection!
Why did I get this book?: I love du Maurier with an unholy passion.
Review: Daphne du Maurier is one of my patron saints, one of the handful of writers who indelibly shaped me and my tastes in literature, so I expected I'd love this collection of 'lost' short stories. I wasn't disappointed: the pieces here are wry and a little dark and deliciously British. These stories span her career, from her start to her post-Rebecca and post-The Birds days, and it's really exciting to see her entire career captured here.
While du Maurier is known for her deliciously Gothic novels, these short stories show her skill at seeing the darker side of romance. Her snappy portraits of marriages, affairs, and couples in love were delightful -- spot on, familiar, droll, and pointed. One of the earliest stories, 'And Now to God the Father' was written when she was 22, and it is a wicked portrayal of an Anglican priest who cares more for society than souls. I howled. A few of the stories were duds for me, including the opening piece, 'East Wind', which is sort of 'eh' (so if you're cold on it too, just keep going, I promise it gets better!).
If you haven't read Rebecca yet (and that's okay, I still love you, but please for the love of everything that's good, read it immediately!), I wouldn't say this is exactly an intro to du Maurier, as these stories are, in the majority, more flip than her Gothic novels. But as an example of scathing British humor, this is a delight.
Grab this when you're with your loved ones over the holidays, and you need something to make you laugh and confirm that it isn't just you who finds being married/in love/dating exasperating at times. Halloween shouldn't be the only time for indulging in darker themes, and these stories are twisted without being scary. Trust me: when it's all happy holiday time, you'll love having this collection to escape in to!
*** *** ***
I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Doll: The Lost Short Stories to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 12/9.