Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Doll by Daphne du Maurier

Title: The Doll: The Lost Short Stories
Author: Daphne du Maurier

Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / British / 1930s / 1940s / Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (11/22/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
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!

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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.

25 comments:

  1. OMG I LOVE HER.... Actually currently working my way through a similar collection of hers "Don't Look Now" - maybe some overlapping stories? love! love! love!

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  2. @Rambo: So good. You won't be disappointed!

    @Jennifer: I think all these stories are 'new' to the collection, in that they're from magazines but haven't yet been published in a book yet. One is a wholly new story unearthed by an archivist or biographer or someone -- it's one of the more wicked stories -- so.good.

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  3. I am going to be reading this one next week, and you have made me really excited to get to it! It sounds like it's going to be a wonderful book to dip in and out of during this season. Great review today! So glad that you liked it!

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  4. I loved Rebecca, and I've never read any of DuMaurier's short stories, so I will have to seek this out. Thanks for a great review.

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  5. This book sounds fantastic. I like dark humor, so I think I'd enjoy it. I still haven't read Rebecca (hanging my head in shame).

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  6. I have to confess I haven't read any of her books.... But I would like to! This sounds good too so I need to pick up her books soon.

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  7. I've been wanting to try du Maurier's writing and this collection of short stories sounds like the perfect way to do it.

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  8. It does bug me that even my mum has read Maurier but I have not ;)

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  9. I haven't read anything by Du Maurier, but the unadulterated glee you take in her is so obvious here that this has convinced me to read something by her (even if I've never been able to make it past the early pages of Rebecca). Have you read anything by Muriel Spark? I feel like based on what you claim to enjoy in Du Maurier that you'd like Spark a good deal too!

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  10. @Steph: I love Muriel Spark -- she's so dark and wry and dry and sharp-eyed -- love her. She scares me, too, a bit like Doris Lessing -- only she's wa-a-a-ay more subtle. Amazing.

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  11. This sounds interesting since I liked Rebecca.

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  12. I've loved almost every du Maurier book I've read to date -- my favourites being My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca -- so I think I'd love this short story collection.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

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  13. This collection sounds wonderful. Glad it worked for you as well Audra.

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  14. What a great review! I'm glad you point out that the collection is more humorous and flip than Rebecca (which I really should re-read!)

    I've had my eye on this book, and your review definitely made me want it even more! Thanks so much for the giveaway!

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  15. I'm not usually in to short stories, but this sounds like a collection I could really enjoy!

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  16. You had me at 'deliciously British.' I love all things British, except, you know, Prince Charles. I adored Rebecca, and this sounds like a slightly different but delightful read.

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  17. You're right -- good short stories are like bonbons! I love that the stories made you 'cackle'. That seems so apropos for this collection.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

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  18. It's so exciting that this collection of short stories spans Daphne du Maurier's career! It's sort of like watching her writing mature. I'm also thrilled that you described them as "dark humor" as I just love that kind of thing in writing!

    As usual, Audra, this is a fantastic review, thank you!
    And thank you for offering a giveaway copy!

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  19. Dark themes, twisted stories and British humor all sound good to me. I didn't realize Daphne du Maurier wrote short stories.

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  20. I love when a book is so good, I have to immediately force someone else into reading! My sister and friend from work are typically subjected to my "stop what you're reading and grab this now" edicts! Sounds like a memorable read.

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  21. Rebecca is the only one I've read so far, but I've been meaning to pick up others. With such a glowing review from you I'll have to put this one at the top of my list of books to pick up.

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  22. I loved this collection as much as you did and agree her sense of humor comes through with every story, even those that don't at first feel like "humurous".

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  23. It was like a punch in the heart, finding out there was a DdM book of new material out! How exciting! There is always a melancholy that accompanies reading through a favourite, deceased writer's catalogue - knowing that nothing more is to come... (although I've gotten so much enjoyment out of re-reading certain of her stories that this statement is not quite accurate).

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  24. I love short stories, and this sounds like a really fun collection.

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