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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"This excellent collection of [Du Maurier]'s out-of-print and previously unpublished tales is recommended for all collections."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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“Don’t Look Now “is the most famous, having been made into a movie. I have to confess I have never seen the movie, and I wonder how much padding they had to do to stretch this relatively short story into a move.
It’s a very sinister story of a young couple, visiting Venice, with the husband trying to protect the wife from her own anguish over the recent loss of their young daughter. They encounter two very peculiar women; one of the women claims to be psychic, and she assures them that she can see the spirit of their daughter there with them. They also provide a warning. The husband assumes they are charlatans and will soon have their hands out for money, and he worries about the effect they will have on his wife. The warning goes unheeded.
“Not After Midnight” involves a man staying at a hotel in Crete, wanting to be alone to paint and commune with nature. He’s put in a busy chalet rather than the quiet, isolated one he wanted. He finds an empty chalet, empty because the previous occupant drowned. He, too, does not heed warnings, although they are more subtle.
“A Border-Case.” A young woman’s father dies. She adores her father. She can’t quite let go of him, and goes off to find a man her father had formerly been friends with. The consequences are startling.
“The Way of the Cross.” A young clergyman is about to lead a small group of parishioners on a tour of Jerusalem. He had not planned to do so, and he is totally unprepared to do so – he’s never even been there before. The vicar who was to lead the tour had become ill and asked him to fill in. The visit to Jerusalem has an unexpected effect on each member of the group. I found this story to be wonderfully complex and surprising.
“The Breakthrough.” A scientific breakthrough may go too far. It's hard for me to put a finger on why, but this was my least favorite.
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.