Joy's Reviews > The Birds and Other Stories

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
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's review
Jan 04, 2010

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bookshelves: short-stories, gothic

An author whose stories have seeped into mine and others consciousness. The master of cinema Alfred Hitchcock certainly appreciated her imagination and made a trio of films from her books, Jamaica Inn (1939) Rebecca (1940) and The Birds (1963). They all have one thing in common, threat and peril.
When this collection of six stories was first published The Birds was not the original story headlined but a quieter but equally spooky tale The Apple Tree. Virago no doubt thought the more familiar story would be a better selling point, and it worked because that is what made me pick it up.
Hitchcock only read The Birds once and as he said “What I do is read a story only once, and if I like the basic idea, I just forget about the book and start to create cinema”, so none of Hitchcock’s ice cold blondes appear, or the American locale of California. Du Maurier sets her story in the place that inspired her, Cornwall, and it is probably a more ominous tale not just an apocalyptic allegory. Perhaps prescient of the present destruction of ecosystems in which a collective consciousness of nature might turn and confront humankind. In an unusually beak and cold winter one man tries to protect his family but how successful will he be? There may be no escape in this tale.
All but one of the stories has an element of the supernatural but there is also a sense of the natural world ever present. I will try not to give anything away so here is a brief listing -
Monte Verita ; set somewhere in the alpine regions “in the mountains we come closest to whatever Being it is that rules our destiny” and “They have the secret of life on Monte Verita” about a community in the mountains that the locals are afraid of. The narrator tells the story of his friend Victor’s marriage to a Welsh girl called Anna which is a happy one but she is lost to him and our narrator tries to find her.
The Apple Tree; may be about madness or a haunting
The Little Photographer; is a story of a bored self centred young women and an infatuated photographer and a betrayal.
Kiss Me Again Stranger; be careful of who you pick up
The Old Man; who are the strange, isolated family who fascinate our narrator? This is the shortest story in the collection but a quite perfect vignette, with a surprise ending.
Verdict: Great short stories that tell more in 30 pages than perhaps some 300 page book.


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