Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Daphne du Maurier

I'm currently reading All Quiet on the Western Front as my WW1 'remembrance' read leading up to the 11th. November - Armistice day. It's brilliant but hard going so for light relief I started Myself When Young, Daphne du Maurier's autobiography of her life as a child (born 1907), teenager and young woman, up to when she married in 1932.



The idea was to read this slowly, interspersed with the other book, and I'd probably take a week or more to read it. Ho ho... I didn't bargain for an absolutely wonderful little book, so beautifully written that I wouldn't be able to leave it alone. Daphne du Maurier's background is not one I should have been able to identify with much. She was born into a privileged family, her father, Sir Gerald du Maurier, was a famous and successful actor, her grandfather, George, a famous novelist (author of Trilby) and artist. So money was no object. The three girls, Angela, Daphne and Jeanne, were educated privately and at home and then sent to finishing school in France. Throughout all this though, Daphne never really felt that she fitted in. She was a loner, an avid reader. She disliked the social whirl so intensely that she longed to be free of it all, resenting the fact that because she was born a woman this might not be possible. Eventually, of course, the family discovered Cornwall and Daphne realised that that was where she was at her happiest, dressed any old how and messing about in boats or walking the cliffs - which is how she discovered a certain house called Menabilly...

I'm not usually one of these people who keeps checking to see how many pages are left till the end of a book because I dread it ending. The end is the end as far as I'm concerned - I don't generally hanker after more. I did in this instance though. When I read in the introduction that Myself When Young was meant to form part of a much longer autobiography that never got written, I felt bereft. I really, really want to know a lot more about this wonderful author's fascinating life. Luckily, there is what I gather to be an excellent biography by Margaret Forster, plus Daphne wrote other books about her family and in particular her father, Gerald, not to mention Vanishing Cornwall and Rebecca Notebook: And Other Memories both of them highly autobiographical I believe. I hope so, I really do. And I recommend this lovely book to anyone who has read and enjoyed any of Daphne's other titles - I can't imagine anyone not being delighted with it to be honest.

11 comments:

Jeane said...

I've never read anything by this author, but it sounds like a good book.

DesLily said...

my my my... we are alike in another way... when we are really excited over something it's impossible to hide it! lol lol..

I am glad this thrilled you like it did and hope those other books make it even better! I think I had near the same sort of feeling when I read that old laurel and hardy book.. I was so ingrossed into it I didn't want it to end and it was a shock to me that I would enjoy it so much! I hear that in your voice too... a complete surprise and something you didn't want to end!! Oh how I wish more books did that to us!! But I am glad for the ones that do, and for all the other enjoyment they give us

Nymeth said...

wow, I had no idea she had written an autobiography. I'm seriously tempted to order this right now! Thanks for the lovely review, Cath. I bet I'll love this book too.

BooksPlease said...

I just started to read All Quiet on the Western Front yesterday - so far so good.

I really must read Daphne Du Maurier's autobiography. If you get the chance do read Margaret Forster's biography - it is good.

DesLily said...

forgot to mention ... i do have My Cousin Rachel in my tbr list, but have no idea when I will get to it!

Cath said...

Jeanne: DdM has written some real classics that are well worth reading. My favs are Frenchman's Creek and A House on the Strand. I haven't read Rebecca but people who have love it to bits.

Hi Pat! You guessed I liked the book then? LOL!!! Seriously, it's nice that you understand how a book can really grab you sometimes. This one was so much of its time - the early part of the 20th. century. I saw My Cousin Rachel in the library yesterday and couldn't remember if I've read it or not. It does sound good though.

I must remember to look for that Laurel and Hardy book next time I'm in the library as I think I might like that too.

Nymeth... I know you've been reading some DdM short stories recently so I'm pretty sure you would enjoy this book too.

Booksplease: Look forward to hearing your views on All Quiet on the Western Front. It's a compelling read that's for certain.

My local libary has the Margaret Forster book but it's out on loan at the moment. Hopefully it'll be back soon.

Nicola said...

I'm adding that Du Maurier to my wish list, sounds really good.

Cath said...

Nicola, judging by your blog and book tastes I would say this would definitely be a book you would enjoy.

Susie Vereker said...

How interesting. Shall read it. How lucky I started blogging and found so many interesting book suggestions.

Danielle said...

I've recently heard from someone else what a great read this is and I must get to it. I started The Rebecca Notebooks a while back and really need to get back to them. And I also need to read All Quiet on the Western Front sometime as well-I'm envious--you have some good books going.

Cath said...

Susie: I feel the same way about blogging. My reading has become much more interesting since I've been picking up recs from people's blogs. So many books I'd never heard of...

Danielle: I need to get hold of a copy of Rebecca Notebook sometime too. I finished All Quiet and would heartily recommend it to you, feeling quite sure it's a book you would appreciate.