Welcome to the first in a series of posts! I’ll be summarising the work of authors I like, which might help you decide whether to try them, or if you’ve already read one of their books, which others to read next. Today’s recommended author is Daphne du Maurier.
Rebecca is the best known of du Maurier’s novels. Atmospheric and menacing, the novel is a must-read. It’s influenced by Jane Eyre, in a good way. One interesting aspect of Rebecca is that we don’t find out the narrator’s name, which reflects her low self-esteem. The dead first wife, Rebecca, becomes the obsession of the second, unnamed, wife. There’s a sequel to the book, written by Susan Hill, called Mrs de Winter. I remember liking it, but I can’t remember much about the story.
One of the best things about Daphne du Maurier is how varied her work is, but you can be sure to find plot twists, atmosphere and compelling characters in all of her books.
Are you into time travel? Try The House on the Strand, the story of a man who tests a hallucinogenic drug (developed by his wacky scientist friend) and is transported to the medieval era. It all gets complicated when the past and present collide…
Interested in character-driven novels or family dynamics? The Parasites is in my opinion an underrated book and is probably based somewhat on the author’s own experiences.
If you’re a Wuthering Heights fan, try Jamaica Inn or Frenchman’s Creek. There’s an historical novel called Mary Anne, which I wasn’t a fan of, but then I’m not really into the genre. There are some oddities such as Flight of the Falcon, Castle Dor and I’ll Never Be Young Again, which I had mixed opinions about.
My Cousin Rachel I would categorise as a psychological thriller and I think it’s equally good as Rebecca.
Daphne du Maurier wrote many short stories. These can be variable but it’s very subjective – it depends what you like in a short story. The must-reads are ‘The Birds’, ‘Don’t Look Now’ and ‘Not After Midnight’. They are collected into various editions.
Want to read an excellent biography of Daphne du Maurier? I recommend Margaret Forster’s, which looks in detail at Daphne’s life, what she was like as a person, her relationships and how her work was received on publication.