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Du Maurier December: Flash Reviews

All of these reviews have previously been published on The Literary Sisters, but I thought I would group them all together for my Du Maurier December project so that they are more easily accessible.  The books which are briefly discussed in this post are as follows: Don’t Look Now and Other Stories, The King’s General, The Progress of Julius and The Blue Lenses and Other Stories.


Don’t Look Now and Other Stories
by Daphne du Maurier ****
1. I love du Maurier’s writing, and was so excited about reading another of her short story collections.  This is a relatively thick tome, which is comprised of just five stories, many of which are almost novella length.
2. Julie Myerson’s introduction is fabulous, and suits the book perfectly.  I loved reading about her experiences with du Maurier’s work.
3. Each tale here is dark and grotesque, and they are very memorable in their entirety.  The collection is both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

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The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier ****
Storyline: “Honor Harris is only 18 when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless – and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, Honor remains true to him, and finally discovers the secret of Menabilly.”

‘The King’s General’ by Daphne du Maurier (Virago)

1. I love du Maurier’s work, as she never fails to sweep me away into other places and periods. The King’s General is no different, and its vivid scenes and settings are so very memorable.
2. The historical setting which she has chosen here lends itself so well to her plot.  I love the way in which she has based her characters within The King’s General upon real beings.
3. The characters are all so well fleshed out, and du Maurier’s writing and choice of viewpoint is engaging on so many levels.

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The Progress of Julius by Daphne du Maurier *** (1933)
Storyline: Our protagonist is Julius Levy, a Jewish boy living in France, who turns into ‘a quick-witted urchin caught up in the Franco-Prussian war’.  The novel spans his lifetime, from his birth in 1860, to 1932.

1. Du Maurier never fails to strike me with the evocation of scenes which feel so real, it is though I am there.  The sense of history here is stunning.
2. Julius’ behaviour is rather peculiar at times.  He is cruel, and the actions which he performs often feal surprising.  He is odd and rather creepy, and I took an almost immediate dislike to him.
3. The Progress of Julius feels a lot darker than much of du Maurier’s other work.  I was not overly enamoured with its plot.

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The Blue Lenses and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier ****
I love Daphne du Maurier’s books, and her short stories are especially powerful.  This collection, also published as The Breaking Point and Other Stories, promises ‘eight stories which explore the half-forgotten world of childhood fantasies and subtle dreams’.  This quote, coupled with the tales in The Birds and Other Stories, the first of du Maurier’s story collections which I read, made me hope for rather a dark and memorable collection, and that, I am pleased to say, is exactly what I was met with.  Each plotline throughout was surprising, and the twists and turns made me unable to guess what was about to happen.  The tales were startling and full of power, and I very much enjoyed them all for different reasons.

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Flash Reviews: Short Stories (19th June 2014)

‘Don’t Look Now and Other Stories’

Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier ****
1. I love du Maurier’s writing, and was so excited about reading another of her short story collections.  This is a relatively thick tome, which is comprised of just five stories, many of which are almost novella length.
2. Julie Myerson’s introduction is fabulous, and suits the book perfectly.  I loved reading about her experiences with du Maurier’s work.
3. Each tale here is dark and grotesque, and they are very memorable in their entirety.  The collection is both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

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Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro ****
1. It comes as no surprise that I adore Alice Munro’s short stories.  She writes with such clarity and beauty.
2. I found, when I began to read Too Much Happiness, that I had come across the majority of the tales both in Selected Stories and Lying Under the Apple Tree.  The first new-to-me story was on page 138.  Even though much of the book was a re-read, new and surprising elements can always be found in her work, whether you are visiting the tales for the second time, or the tenth.
3. Too Much Happiness is such a strong collection, and I would urge everyone who likes short stories – or even those who simply want to start reading them – to go out and procure a copy.

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