REVIEWED: Manderley Forever

manderley

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatiana De Rosnay (Biography, 2017).

The title here is, of course, a reference to the fictional mansion in Du Maurier’s best known novel, Rebecca. As the author makes clear, real life homes fascinated and repeatedly inspired Du Maurier. In particular, ones she lived in (as well as the regions she inhabited, especially Cornwall) provided the settings for many of her famous works.

A lifelong admirer of Du Maurier’s works, De Rosnay provides a thoroughly engrossing portrait of the famed writer, who (despite attempts from lazy critics to pigeonhole her) carved out a one-of-a-kind literary career for herself and faced life on her own, unique terms.

De Rosnay does an admirable job describing Du Maurier’s many passions and eventful life. We also learn a great deal about the many interesting people associated with Du Maurier–including her once-famed actor father, her two sisters (one a middling author in her own right, the other an artist of decent reputation), her husband (the British general who led his nation’s paratroopers in WW II) and assorted famous people she had often close ties to.

Du Maurier’s shy childhood, her many crushes and infatuations (with men and women alike), and how the latter often cooled then deepened into lifelong friendships are all revealed. The sharp opinions and insights, the sense of humor, the stubborn pride and all the other personal aspects that drove the author of books as diverse as Jamaica InnThe Infernal World of Branwell Bronte and Vanishing Cornwall, not to mention such chilling short stories as “The Birds” are brought to full life in this excellent biography.

Whether a devoted fan of Du Maurier’s many works or if you only know her from Rebecca or a few others–or even just the often off-target movie versions of several of them, I recommend you get a copy of this book. And I suspect that, even if you’ve never read Daphne Du Maurier before, this volume with spark an interest in what the unusual life experiences and the imagination of this singular individual brought to the world.

 

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