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Don't Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne du Maurier (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 28, 2008
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"This excellent collection of [Du Maurier]'s out-of-print and previously unpublished tales is recommended for all collections." --Library Journal
"That whooshing sound you hear is your mind being sucked into the brilliant black depths of Daphne du Maurier's Gothic imagination, the instant you begin reading the eponymous first story in Don't Look Now. ... Novelist Patrick McGrath's introduction reacquaints us with the intense, eccentric, psychologically deft du Maurier, a master storyteller with a touch as smooth as a raven's wing." --O, the Oprah Magazine
"This author was unique in how she set people's attempts to be civilized and fair against the ravages of nature and the deceptions of intimacy--both of which can attack from within as well as without." --Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO Weekly)
"This new collection of her macabre tales, which features many unavailable for years, is an ideal treat for Halloween." --Thicket
Du Maurier "was indeed a serious writer, a brilliant innovative practitioner of her craft, as these stories consistently demonstrate...Readers of these wonderful stories will go to places and feelings they never dreamed of - all because Daphne du Maurier possessed such an amazing imagination and such a capacity to make it all seem credible in her sturdy prose." --Washington Times
"'Don't Look Now' has remarkable sexual tension and is reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith in some ways, while 'The Blue Lenses' has a central idea that's one of the most original and scary you'll ever come across. She's a writer we think we know but don't really -- hugely underrated." --Los Angeles Times
"Don't Look Now is a stunning collection of du Maurier's particular brand of intricately plotted story. The mesmerizing title story was faithfully adapted by Nicholas Roeg, and the volume also includes the creepily riveting tale "The Birds,"... filmed by Alfred Hitchcock." --The Atlantic
“Daphne du Maurier's genius lay in her plots, which she spun with astounding originality and ease. Her novel Rebecca, her short stories ‘The Birds,’ ‘Don't Look Now,’ ‘The Blue Lenses’ and dozens more have an effectiveness that make them seem almost traditional, belonging not to any one author but to the imagination of the world.”–Albert Manguel
"Her tales of the macabre are among the best of their genre." –Michael Dirda
“Daphne du Maurier’s writing deserves a fresh look. She has long enjoyed national and international fame…and remains one of Britain’s most popular novelists, her books translated into many languages and read all over the world. The renowned film version of her stories…have brought her a global reputation, which is continually enhanced by television, radio and theatre adaptations. However, her status as a household name has sometimes led to patronizing commentary, the tag of ‘romantic novelist’ repeated relentlessly…This is no writer of idealistic and optimistic romance; from her earliest years, with acute observation and irony, Daphne du Maurier plumbed the depths of human betrayal, exploitation and despair, while at the same time evoking life’s unpredictable moments of intense pleasure and desire, often with a wry wit.” –Helen Taylor
“A crackerjack raconteuse…she takes the reader by the icy hand and leads him behind the curtain to view the characters on their ways to their own breaking points.” –The Saturday Review
“When the sky turns to slate and a bitter wind lashes the deserted Piazza San Marco, I long to sink into a corner of the Caffe Florian with 'Don't Look Now' and lose myself in Daphne du Maurier's bleak views of the city as a maze of sinister alleys and shuttered houses and bridges that lead nowhere.” –Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
“Du Maurier emerges as a unique and complex writer whose mature works proved so disturbing that they've either been ignored or distorted beyond recognition…she's a complex, powerful, unique writer, so unorthodox that no critical tradition, from formalism to feminism, can digest her.” –Carol LeMasters, Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review
“Du Maurier served up more sinister fare than the Brontës…” –The New York Times Book Review
“Du Maurier has no equal” –Daily Telegraph (London)
About the Author
DAPHNE DU MAURIER (1907-1989)was the daughter of the legendary actor-manager Gerald du Maurier and granddaughter of George du Maurier, the author of the vastly successful late-Victorian novel Trilby and cartoonist for the magazine Punch. She grew up in London and Cornwall, where she would settle as an adult. Du Maurier published her first novel when she was twenty-three and would go on to write seventeen more, many of them best-sellers, including My Cousin Rachel, Jamaica Inn, and Rebecca, one of the most popular novels of the twentieth century. In addition to her fiction, du Maurier wrote several family biographies, a biography of Branwell Brontë, a study of Cornwall, two plays, and a good deal of journalism. She was married to Tommy “Boy” Browning and was the mother of three children.
PATRICK MCGRATH is the author of two story collections and seven novels, including Port Mungo, Dr. Haggard’s Disease, Spider, (which he also adapted for the screen), and most recently, Trauma. Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution won Italy’s Premio Flaiano Prize, and his 1996 novel, Asylum, was short-listed for both the Whitbread and the Guardianfiction prizes. McGrath is the co-editor of a collection of short fiction, The New Gothic. He lives in New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
The most well-known story here is "The Birds," made famous, of course, by the Alfred Hitchcock movie, but despite the fact that the plot is well known, this is still an incredibly engrossing story. For one thing it is quite a bit different in many ways from the movie, most notably in that it takes place in an English coastal town, not California. There is also no subplot involving a love story: the plot in this story is relentlessly straightforward and because of this, quite dreadful. Things just get worse and worse and there is no glimmer of hope at the end.
Another excellent story is "Don't Look Now," which was also made into a movie although this film is not nearly as well known. It takes place in Venice and involves a grieving, confused, vacationing English couple; clairvoyant, creepy old ladies; and a horrifying ending which comes right out of the blue, but which in fact is, after reflection, inevitable.
Perhaps the best of the collection is a grim little thing called "The Blue Lenses." A woman, after undergoing surgery to restore her eyesight, is given "blue lenses" for a short time after the bandages are removed to transition her to the time when full eyesight will be restored. But the blue lenses are perhaps too effective: they allow her to see things a little too clearly, well beyond that which normal people can see. What she sees is shocking, both to her, and to the reader.
It must be said that there are a couple of weaker moments here. "Escort" and "La Sainte-Vierge" while worthy, nevertheless have the feel of a Twilight Zone plot. It must be kept in mind, though, that Twilight Zone appeared long after these stories did. The remainder, especially, "Kiss Me Again, Stranger," and, "Monte Verita," are excellent: compelling, original, and bizarre.
Ms. Du Maurier is just a flat-out great writer, and this is a fine collection of her work.
I enjoy most stories set in Venice - a dream location [and vacation destination]. "Don't Look Now" uses the city to stunning effect; the labyrinthine canals and dark deserted alleyways make for a perfectly sinister setting. A grieving couple has come to the city of falling angels to regroup after the loss of their young daughter. They encounter a strange couple: twin sisters, middle aged, one a blind medium gifted with precognitive gifts. The sisters relay a warning from the daughter that the couple is in danger and must leave Venice.....to go any further would spoil the suspense (which would be a crime worthy of jail time). Needless to say, there is tension, intrigue and dread on every remaining page. Densely plotted and executed with unparalleled skill, "Don't Look Now" is a ghost story worthy of the masters.
"The Birds" is a masterpiece of suspense, stark and beautifully articulated. Set on a farm in Cornwall just after WWII, the story is an apocalyptic vision of a world where birds are suddenly waging war against humans. du Maurier's tale is bleak and relentless: 90% of the action takes place in the cottage, and the author creates a claustrophobic nightmare. There is no journey to safety; there is only "the cottage."
This is a story that would make a great film. I imagine it just as written, shot in beautiful black and white.
I am most eager to hear what the rest of my group will think of these dark tales. I've been urged by several of them to read "Rebecca" (that's right, I've never read it), and perhaps I'll go ahead now that I've wetted my apatite with these gems.