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Daphne: A Novel

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  873 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
"Deftly drawn. An accomplished retelling…The reader need not be a devotée of Branwell Brontë or Daphne du Maurier or even the Gothic genre to take pleasure in this novel; the butterflies are brightly colored and the display well-lit."—Washington Post

Folding biographical details of its real-life heroine, Daphne de Maurier, into a page-turning plot, Daphne is a deftly c
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2007)
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Sep 28, 2009 Hannah rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2011 Farin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 25, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: brontephilia
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
Claire the frenchbooklover
3,5 pour être exacte
Jul 09, 2015 Loie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
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
Maggie Donaldson
Oct 11, 2011 Maggie Donaldson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara Steger
Dec 12, 2015 Sara Steger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Having always been a great fan of Du Maurier's books and knowing a little about her life, I found this book a fascinating read. I loved it as much for what I did not know as for the chance to revisit what I already did. The three stories (four if you want to give a nod to Branwell), which weave between the present day and the 1959-60 era, are well told.
My main reaction to this novel, though, was to yearn for a reread of both Rebecca and the Bronte novels.
Feb 08, 2010 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Heidi, Bettie
Just arrived from Sweden, from my dear friend Bettie. Now its flying towards Seattle...
Feb 16, 2015 Lobo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 01, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2008 Carey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2009 Barb rated it really liked it
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
Aug 31, 2009 Maren rated it liked it
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
Jul 31, 2010 Amanda rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2013 Karli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
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
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
Mar 02, 2012 Steph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well...unfortunately, dropping the names of the Bronte family and Du Marier does not a novel make. I read half of this book before succumbing to the realization that, in 200 pages, absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g had happened. The character development, plotline-nothing had progressed beyond the most basic unfolding of a story. I began this book with high hopes of vintage gothicism, madness, enthralling characters, and the like. Instead, I was met with mundane, mediocre writing of flat characters and a ...more
Mimi Johnson
Nov 17, 2009 Mimi Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Joanne Moyer
Nov 18, 2011 Joanne Moyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what to expect from this book - it's not a straight biography of Daphne du Maurier, but is factual in it's telling of the events of a certain time in her life while she was writing the book The Infernal World of Bramwell Bronte. It entwines 3 stories, Daphne's, J.A. Symington, a man who had many of the Bronte papers in his collection and the modern day narrator, a young woman writing a paper on Daphne and the Brontes, whose life seems to mirror one of du Maurier's most famous books ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2012 Leanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Daphne roars off to a strong start but peters out around page 130. I’m not exactly sure why. Possibly because none of its characters is particularly sympathetic. Daphne du Maurier, in particular, is very unsympathetic. On the page of this novel and in real life. Cold. Distant. Forbidding. So much of her emotional energy went into guarding her secret.

The novel begins at the point where Daphne's husband, Sir Frederick Browning, has just had a complete mental and physical breakdown brought on by al
Feb 25, 2015 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2016 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, c21st
I can’t pretend to be disappointed by this one… I bought Justine Picardie’s Daphne so long ago that I had forgotten all about it, and indeed only took it off the shelf because the P shelf was at capacity and I thought that if I read it (404 pages) it would make room for at least two more books.

But I was expecting it to be better than it was. I must have bought it because it’s a reimagining of the latter years of Daphne du Maurier (tick) when she was writing a biography of Branwell Brontë (tick)
Apr 22, 2015 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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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?” 13 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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