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Daphne

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  773 ratings  ·  155 reviews
It is 1957. The author Daphne du Maurier, beautiful and famous, despairs as her marriage falls apart. Restlessly roaming through Menabilly, her remote mansion by the sea in Cornwall, she is haunted by regret and by her creations—especially Rebecca, the heroine of her most famous novel. Seeking distraction from her misery, Daphne becomes passionately interested in Branwell, ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2007)
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Hannah
A beautifully written book that weaves the thoughts and actions of three distinct characters into one cohesive tale of the search for meaning, acceptance and understanding.

The book follows the life of the writer Daphne duMaurier and the historian/librarian Alex Symington from 1957-1960, as well as the life of an unnamed female student doing research for her doctorate in the present day. Each chapter focuses on one of these characters, and is told through their "voice" or via letters.

In each case
...more
Karen
Since Daphne duMaurier is one of my favorite writers, I was very excited to get my hands on this novel about her. The plot tells three connected stories: Daphne's as she researches the life of the alcoholic, doomed Branwell Bronte; A.J. Symington, a Branwell-esque librarian who fell into disgrace after stealing several manuscripts from the Bronte Parsonage and Musueum; and a modern-day scholar whose marriage to an older man is threatened by the lingering presence of his ex-wife, Rachel, as the s ...more
Chris
Who doesn't love a juicy literary mystery? What happened to that poem? Who slept with whom? And really, why does she write about incest? Is it a ghost? And what's with him? It's no surprise that many books have been written about any literary mystery.

This book is somewhat like Possession, but not as good. Picardie uses three characters - [author:Daphne du Maurier|2001717. Symington, and a grad student to explore the Brontes and who the Bronte brother was, you know that bloke who died.

Told partly
...more
Nancy
Nov 19, 2008 Nancy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Brit Lit nerds
I picked this new book up, because my favorite novel of all time is the famous "Rebecca," known to some Brit Litters as the bastard half-sister of the Bronte girls' "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights." Actually completing this book tells me I'm either one of two things: A Brit Lit proficient, (considering I even bothered to finish this surprisingly intense book to begin with), or a horrible Brit Lit student who doesn't know 2% of what she actually thought she knew about her favorite novels. My m ...more
Farin
Daphne was a bit of a surprise and a bit of a letdown for me. Like most people, I picked it up because I'm a fan of Rebecca and was excited to read a historical fiction piece on its author. It's entirely my fault that I didn't reading the abstract before I checked it out of my library, because if I had I would have known that the story was less about Rebecca and more about Daphne's twilight years as she struggled through a turbulent marriage and an equally turbulent biography of Branwell Bronte. ...more
Sarah
Similar setup to A.S. Byatt's Possession: modern day scholars obsessed with dead authors, literary mystery of the past to unravel, lots of correspondence, forgotten manuscripts, life imitates fiction. There's an additional layer to this book--there are the present-day characters, then Daphne du Maurier and J.A. Symington in the middle ground, and finally Branwell Brontë in the most distant past.

I enjoyed much of the back-and-forth between du Maurier and Symington. What sunk the book for me was t
...more
Lobo
Amikor megkaptam ajánlatnak a Daphne-t és utánanéztem, nagyon felvillanyozott a történet leírása.

1957, Daphne du Maurier, bár híres, szép és gazdag éppen magánéleti krízist él át: a házassága esik darabokra. Hogy elterelje figyelmét, kutatni kezdi a Bronte nővérek bátyjának, Branwellnek az életét. Levelezni kezd a titokzatos kutatóval, Alex Symingtonnal, akinek szintén hasonló az érdeklődése, de a férfi elég sok mindent ködösít. Közben pedig napjainkban egy magányos fiatalasszony PhD tézisét írv
...more
Lisa
Okay, I'll admit up front that "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite books as well as most of the books by the Bronte sisters. So a work of fiction that incorporates du Maurier and the Brontes is going to have to screw up pretty badly for me to not like it. This one didn't. It's really three stories in one--du Maurier's story beginning in 1957 as her marriage begins to unravel and she become obsessed with writing a book on Branwell Bronte; the story of Alex Syminton, a former libr ...more
Carey
In this interesting fact-based novel the author tells the story of how Daphne du Maurier came to write her biography of Branwell Bronte in the early 1960s, The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte.



When the novel opens Daphne du Maurier is in her early fifties and is dealing with a host of personal problems. Her husband Tommy has had a breakdown and is temporarily hospitalized. Their relationship is rocky in any case because of Daphne has found out that he had a recent affair. She is portrayed as be
...more
Barb
Literary references were constant throughout Justine Picardie's 'Daphne'. This book really felt like it was leading me to more books.

Some of the books the author mentions include; 'Rebecca', 'The Birds', 'My Cousin Rachel' all by Daphne du Maurier, 'Trilby' by George du Maurier, 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte, 'The Infernal Branwell Bronte' by Daphne du Maurier, 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins, 'Peter Pan' by JM Barrie, 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte and 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hal
...more
Maren
I had been on a bit of a Daphne Du Maurier reading binge earlier this year after discovering Rebecca I read The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte and her short stories and so I was dubious about what a modern author might do in a fictionalized account of her life and her writing the biography of Branwell Bronte, the lesser-known brother of the famous literary sisters.

I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. Daphne is an intriguing page-turner and is full of fascinating and well-researched
...more
Karli
One of my goals this year is to finally read Rebecca and I thought this book may help me with that goal. Daphne is a great book for a book nerd/graduate student in English - the story winds duMaurier's attempt to research and write The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte with the story of a young PhD candidate's attempt to write her dissertation on Daphne du Maurier. The narration goes from Daphne to Symington to Jane from chapter to chapter, with Daphne's story dominating. The writing is fairly g ...more
Christina
This is a historical reimagining of a real figure done right--rigorously researched and based on actual events. I don't know what kicked me off on this Daphne du Maurier sort-of-fan-fiction phase, but it's been fun to "learn" (I use that term loosely) about her.

That said, this book wasn't totally successful for me. The narrative is told in three different perspectives: Daphne, Symington (another real historical figure), and Jane, a fictional modern day researcher. The Symington chapters dragged
...more
Mimi Johnson
Moody Atmosphere

I purchased this book at a lovely little independent bookstore right outside the train station at Kew Gardens. I agree with many of the reviewers here that the story was often unevenly told. But what I found fascinating was the excellent evocation of a moody darkness created by the author-very much so reminiscent of the Bronte novels.

The author captures deftly the desire many writers have (here, all three protagonists) to bring to life a forgotten or misunderstood literary figur
...more
Maggie Donaldson
I wouldn't have chosen ths to read if it hadn't have been for the bookclub I belong to - and I'm glad I did! On paper, it doesn't sound too promising - a weaving of a story about Daphne du Maurier's research into her biography of Branwell Bronte, interwoven with the life of a younf woman fifty years later researching Du Maurier for a PHD. But it was a skillful study of relationships, denial, betrayal, plagiarism and much more, and very atmospheric. I have never read du Maurier but this book has ...more
Heather
This is a beautifully crafted novel, flicking between a fictional world set in the present day, back in time to Daphne Du Maurier's life, when she was writing her factual book about Bramwell Bronte. I adored the parts from Daphne's point of view and it's obvious the author has a great love of her work. In fact for me it could have dispensed with the modern-day parts and just had the entire book from Daphne's viewpoint. Well worth a read, even if the ending was rather flat, which was enough for m ...more
Leanna
I am slightly underwhelmed by the ending. Not that I didn't enjoy the book; in fact it was great. I just wanted a bit more... the family tree shows Daphne living until 1980 or something, but the book ends in 1960 and what happens next?? What even happens with Rachel/Paul/Modern-day Narrator? I guess I have to read the biography of Daphne Du Maurier? Hmm. But I can say I did get caught up by the end, and probably only have issues with it because I'm not a huge fan of leaving things hanging. Which ...more
Val
Dame Daphne du Maurier was a successful author and playwright. Her husband 'Boy' Browning was a war hero decorated in both World Wars, but he started drinking heavily in later life and had a nervous breakdown. She was also the cousin of the Llewelyn Davies boys, who served as J.M. Barrie's inspiration for the characters in the play Peter Pan.
Patrick Branwell Brontë was a painter, writer and poet, the only son of the Brontë family, and the brother of the writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne, who lat
...more
Cinderella3653
I picked up this book for little to nothing for a "vacation" read. It turned out to be a great book for that purpose. I really enjoyed the interweaving of the various stories in the different time periods, however the ending left me lacking. I felt certain all these characters would blend into some sort of "familiar lineup".... either through some secret child birth, or something. So in the end I was a bit disappointed. It did raise my curiosity about Daphne and her books... to the point that no ...more
Christi
I love novels about writers and PhD students, so I was thrilled when my mother-in-law gave me Daphne.

While enjoyable, it wasn't quite the page-turner that I was expecting, partly because only two of the three story threads really intertwine. First, there's a thread told from Daphne du Maurier's perspective as she is researching and writing her biography of Branwell Bronte. A second thread is told from the perspective of J.A. Symington, a disgraced bibliophile who uses stolen Bronte texts to hel
...more
R.K. Johnson
What a read! Okay I know that could mean anything, but that's sort of how I feel about this book. A pool of mixed feelings. On the one hand I applaud this author for her good work in highlighting the lives and works of other great authors but on the other I want to give her a spanking for the pat plot which pretty much follows the plots of the great works by the authors who are in fact the subjects of this work. I know confusing right! That's what this book was, a literary labyrinth.

Overall I ad
...more
Kathy Chartier
This beautifully written book has three stories rolled into one. The author weaves the story of Daphne du Maurier's research and writing of the biography of Branwell Bronte into the life of a young woman who years later is researching Daphne du Maurier for a PhD thesis,and Mr. Symington,whose obsessive quest for everything Bronte is a bit unnatural. This entire book with it's dark and brooding atmosphere is an exercise in the study of relationships.

Justine Picardie entertained and educated me on
...more
Ruth
This book features revolves around three characters, these being Daphne Du Maurier during the late 1950s, when she is facing problems in her personal life, and struggling to write a biography of Branwell Bronte (brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne); Bronte scholar J. Alex Symington, who like Daphne, is fascinated by the life of Branwell Bronte, and who corresponds with her about the Branwell biography; and an unnamed young woman in the present day, who is preoccupied with Daphne Du Maurier, and ...more
Kristin
Daphne fluctuates between the perspectives of three people: a fictionalized Daphne DuMaurier, a Mr. Alexander Symington former curator of a couple of different Bronte libraries (I'm actually unsure if he was a real person or not) with whom Ms. DuMaurier is corresponding for research on her book about Branwell Bronte, and a definitely fictional modern young woman writing a dissertation on the link between DuMaurier and the Brontes.

It seemed to me that Ms. Picardie was unsure what she wanted her
...more
Loie
OK, i tried. I tried for over 100 pages but could not get into this book at all. I love victorian novels: Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and more. I thought I would really enjoy this book when it was given to me this summer. I tend to read at night before going to bed and so i thought i was reading it at the wrong time; too tired to follow the plot lines. So I tried it at different times but to no avail. I guess i just didn't get the literary mystery and couldn't get into the scandal. I f ...more
Elizabeth
I absolutely loved this book!
Jo
It's intetesting that both the books I have just read use the same device - one of interweaving a story of someone researching the other story (or aspects of it). I have recently seen the play Rebecca staged at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth whoch reminded me of how much I had loved this book. It was interested to know more about the life of Daphne du Maurier and the book certainly enabled me to do that. It was very well researched and I was really impressed with the accuracy and authenticity of ...more
Jen
Daphne follows three main narratives: 1) Daphne du Maurier, past her prime, is struggling to write a biography about Branwell Bronte; 2) Mr. J. A. Symington, who corresponds with Daphne as he ruminates on his failure to complete his own biography of Branwell; and 3) the narrator who is trying to write her dissertation on the Brontes, while secretly obsessing about Daphne and Symington. Meanwhile, our dear narrator is seemingly living out a du Maurier novel. There are three main elements of the n ...more
Rachel Crooks
When I was little, I remember this recurring thing on Sesame Street where a girl would walk down a room with a bunch of doors, and then each time she would open a different door, and there would be a different world of possibilities, all starting with the letter D, or R, (or whatever letter of the day). I felt a little like that girl reading this book, only the door I opened was the Daphne door, and in the Daphne world were all of these literary characters: Daphne herself, Rebecca, Charlotte, E ...more
bookczuk
Interesting book -- a novel about one of my favorite authors, who is often blown off as a lightweight, even today. But I love some of her books (and so did Alfred Hitchcock, who made a couple into really fine, and classic, movies.) Basically, this is a telling of two stories: Daphne's tale (and I admit I hadn't realized a great deal of her personal life and family history, which was all interesting for me to read) and the story of A PhD Student researching the Brontes. The question for both stor ...more
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“People are often dismissive of librarians and libraries - as if the words are synonymous with boredom or timidity. But isn't that where the best stories are kept? Hidden away on the library bookshelves, lost and forgotten, waiting, waiting, until someone like me comes along, and wants to borrow them?” 12 likes
“And yes, I confess, when I looked at him, I thought of Heathcliff and Mr Rochester and Maxim de Winter... and how could I not, when I had been waiting for them to step out of the pages of the books I loved; when I knew them so well, read them inside out and into myself?” 1 likes
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