Tony's Reviews > Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories

Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier
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's review
Nov 22, 09

bookshelves: fiction-short-stories
Read in November, 2009

48. du Maurier, Daphne. DON’T LOOK NOW and other stories. (2007). *****. We are all familiar with du Maurier’s novels: “Rebecca,” “The House on the Strand,” and “Jamaica Inn.” How many of us have read her short stories, though – with the possible exception of “The Birds?” In this edition put out by The Folio Society, nine of her stories are collected, plus there is an introduction by Patrick McGrath. The book is also illustrated by Helen Smithson, an artist I don’t know, but whose paintings catch the mood of each story right on. If I tried to tell about each story, I’d have to write several pages, so I won’t do that; but I will do a few. The title story, “Don’t Look Now,” is set in Venice. It’s the story of a married couple who are visiting the city – which they had first visited on their honeymoon – in order to try and get over the recent loss of their daughter. While there, they meet twins, two old women who look almost exactly alike; one of them appears to be blind. When they introduced themselves to each other, the blind one tells the wife that she sees their daughter sitting between them at their table in the restaurant. The wife was overjoyed to learn of her presence, while her husband – an unbeliever in the spirit world – suggests that they move on and avoid these two old women. Later, the wife seeks out these two women and becomes more friendly with them. They provide her with more evidence that their daughter is safe and happy, but they also provide some warnings about the future; a future that holds dire consequences for her husband. They warn her that they should both leave Venice immediately. Of course, this fits right in with the husband’s plans, but plans don’t always work out. The consequences are startling. Another particularly good story is, “The Blue Lenses.” A woman who has had serious damage done to her eyes undergoes a series of operations that are intended to restore her sight. She is temporarily fitted with a pair of blue eyeglasses at the end of the procedure until her eyes have recovered sufficiently to have her use regular lenses. Her sight is restored, but through the blue lenses – in addition to her not being able to discriminate colors – she sees the people of the hospital staff as humans, but with a variety of animal heads. Even her husband now has the head of a vulture. She tries to explain what is happening to the staff, but everyone seems to feel that this is just an hysterical reaction. When it is time for the blue lenses to be replaced by regular lenses, another change occurs. What it is and how she reacts to it will leave you gasping. The final story in the collection is, “The Birds.” We all know the story from the film adapted from it, but the film and the story are very different. I think you will find that the story leaves you with a very different feeling than the film did. Highly recommended.
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