Friday, 20 April 2012

R is for The Rendezvous by Daphne du Maurier






I've never liked Daphne du Maurier's novels. I find them very difficult to get into, and incapable of holding my attention; but her short stories are a completely different matter entirely. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that she's a bit of a master in the art.

Daphne du Maurier on Wikipedia
In the first story of this collection a seemingly happily married woman wakes up one morning and committs suicide. An investigator is brought in by her distraught husband to work out why. This investigator retraces the steps of this woman's life, talking to her old headmaster amongst others, until the tragic tale is told. It probably doesn't follow the 'rules' of how a modern short story would work, but it's a story that holds your attention until the very end - which is surely the point!

In another, a writer's new relationship isn't quite what he'd hoped for, while a fellow writer is getting all the glory.

Other stories hint at the paranormal, implement fantastic twists, or are just perfect enough to stay with you for a long time afterwards.

Why is this in my list - apart from starting with R - I hear you ask? Simply because they are good stories, told well. They are subtle enough that with just one sentence she can turn the whole story on it's head. A true gift. Sometimes I feel that modern short stories are written to shock or confuse; I am often confused by recent short stories, and sometimes I'm not sure what the story is. With du Maurier's short stories, you are under no illusion, and you are enveloped into her rich, imagined world.


32 comments:

  1. Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite writers...though I like Rebecca the best of her works. Another awesome R :)

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    1. I'd like to try Rebecca, but because I've been caught out with some of her other novels, I'm wary of it. If you're calling it awesome, I might give it a go :-)

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  2. My first thought was "Not Rebecca?"

    I honestly didn't know Daphne du Maurier even wrote short stories. I only knew about her novels.

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    1. Nope, not Rebecca. I've not read it! She's written three collections - her short story 'The Birds' inspired the Hitchcock film of the same name (although I think the actual story differed).

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  3. I'm with M.J. - I didn't know du Maurier wrote short stories either! Definitely something to check out. :)

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    1. They are really wonderful stories that could probably teach most of us a thing or two about the craft.

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  4. I have one of her books in my 'to be read stack'. I really need to read faster!

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    1. Which book, Elizabeth? I have pictures of these TBR piles getting totally out of hand :-)

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  5. Will look out for that collection - couldn't find it on Kindle. I have to say that I love Rebecca - in fact it's one of my favourites!

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    1. I just had a look myself on Kindle - Rebecca and The Doll are on there. The Doll seems to be a collection of newly rediscovered stories, not published in a collection before.

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  6. I didn't even know she had a collection, but I actually really loved Rebecca, so maybe I'll have to check it out :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

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    1. She's got three - The Birds, The Rendezvous and Breaking Point. And then also The Doll, as I mentioned to Linda above which is a pothumously published collection.

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  7. 'Why is this in my list - apart from starting with R - I hear you ask?'

    Cute. :)

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    1. This was an early written one, when I was still pretendin there was a proper theme :-)

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  8. Daphne wrote a lot of short stories. I'm surprised that people haven't heard of 'The Birds', admittedly altered significantly by Hitchcock in his film. My son lives at Fowey where du Maurier wrote her first novel The Loving Spirit at the family house of Ferryside where her son and his family live today. Menabily, the house in which she lived for many years, was the model for Manderley along with Milton House near Peterborough. Menabily, its history and grounds provided input to a number of her novels - not just Rebecca. I wrote an article to commemorate the centenary of her birth,you can read it here - http://www.writelink.co.uk/community/blogs/entry/Centenary-Potrait-Daphne-Du-Maurier

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    1. Thanks for commenting Bob. I think most people have heard of The Birds - I certainly knew she wrote it way before I became interested in her other work (it's one of those pub quiz questions). But I come from Cornwall, so she's more apparent around her, and a lot of the people commenting on this blog are American, and maybe only the 'greatest hits' are known over there. Perhaps someone from US can confirm this?

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  9. ooh gona have to put this on my list, they sound amazing :)

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  10. Oh, I'll have to add this to my list if they're that good. Short story telling is an art unto itself. Something I'd like to get better at.

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    1. They are definitely worth reading, over and over. I hope you enjoy them :-)

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  11. That's how I feel about Stephen King. I liked the short stories but not so much the novels.

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    1. And again, with King, it's the shorter stories that make the better films... or am I just making that up?

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  12. Hi Annalisa. Her novels can be difficult but worth the effort I think. But I haven't read these short stories but must. I write short stories and the brief for a modern short story is to be mysterious, leave clues, which if not done well confuses the reader.

    Denise

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    1. I coinceidentally found Rule Britannia at work yesterday (we have a table of donated books to raise money for charity) - so I've got that one to try now.

      Short stories are where my heart is. I write the story I want to tell, and then panic is doesn't suit today's market.

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  13. The short stories sound interesting. I have read a few modern short stories which were confusing to me as well. Nice to know I'm not alone in that. Great post!

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    1. Thanks Wendy. It's nice to know I'm not alone too :-)

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  14. I like short stories and find I don't read enough of them. Perhaps it's time for a change :) Another great pick Annalisa.

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    1. Thanks Marta. I buy them because I write them; the more I buy, the more that need publishing... including me! :-)

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  15. What an interesting premise for a story. I used to get annoyed that short stories are so... short. But now I have a better appreciation for them.

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    1. It's a really great story, and a goosebumpy ending when you figure out what's going on! In du Maurier's case, she draws you in so fully, you feel like you're reading something much longer - worth checking out!

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Please comment - I love a good chat!