Hannah's Reviews > Daphne

Daphne by Justine Picardie
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's review
Sep 23, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: houses-as-characters, gothics

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, the mysterious life and writings of Bramwell Bronte is woven throughout each of these lives, as in their own way these three characters search for clues to his possible contribution to the great Bronte sisters works of "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre". In addition, the haunting works of Daphne duMaurier such as "Rebecca" and "My Cousin Rachel", are also an ever present feature, especially in the life of our unnamed thesis student, who greatly resembles the unnamed Mrs. deWinter of "Rebecca" fame in attitude.

According to the author, this book is based on real life events in the life of duMaurier, and the author had the assistance of her family, friends and associates in fleshing out her character. I know very little about duMaurier's life, so I can't judge the accuracy of this claim, but if so, then Daphne was a brillant but tortured creative soul, as so many great talents are. Through Picardie's tale, I can certainly catch a glimpse of why duMaurier wrote the stories she did, and I have a much greater appreciation for her works.

Picardie has a wonderful writing style, and some passages are so beautiful that I found myself rereading them again and again. I thought she did a good job maintaining the "voice" of the three characters, and I liked the seemless flow of the book from one voice to the next.

In the end, I admit that I gave the book 3 stars instead of higher on a purely subjective basis: it was ultimately a depressing story, and one that I don't think I could read again--at least not in my current stage of life. But it's well worth the read, and I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys a literary mystery, or who likes the writings of duMaurier or the Bronte sisters.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Laura I look forward to read this book since I am a big fan of Dame Du Maurier.

Bettie☯ Yes Hannarh - I agree it is a disconcerting read and skimmed the most painful parts, hence my having to re-read sections before embarking on Branwell Bronte, as some things were muddled in my noddle.

Laura - I am still working towards posting this on to you if you haven't secured yourself another copy


Laura Bettie, I am in no hurry, take your time for reading this book.

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