DAPHNE DU MAURIER SHORT STORY CHALLENGE
In the style of the Unlikely Bookworm I've decided to set myself a reading challenge. I have at least twenty-five Daphne DuMaurier short stories on my bookshelf - I aim to read one short story every day until I've read through my whole collection! And I'll post my progress here.
DAY ONE: A Borderline Case
From the Don't Look Now short story collection, A Borderline Case follows Shelagh as she uncovers the mysteries of her deceased Father's past, with horrifying consequences.
A master of character, it is interesting to see how Du Maurier reveals different layers of Shelagh's nature, through Shelagh's various interactions with the story's other characters - she turns out to be quite different to what I had initially expected.
DAY TWO: No Motive
From The Rendezvous collection this is another suspenseful page turner. It follows private detective Black's attempts to solve the mystery of an apparently happy young woman's suicide. Du Maurier deftly takes the reader from one to clue to another - the ending is both startling and thought-provoking. I definitely recommend this one.
DAY THREE: Panic
A Much shorter story from The Rendezvous collection. And WOW! This one is good! Du Maurier really gets across very strong images of the location - you can almost smell and touch the hotel where the two characters are staying. What is most compelling though is the ending - I felt the desperate panic that the main character feels. This one is well worth your time - it stays with you long after you've finished it.
DAY FOUR: The Supreme Artist
Another short story from The Rendezvous collection, The Supreme Artist focuses on the character of an ageing male actor. Visited by a woman who he doesn't recognise, but with whom he had a close relationship many years ago, the actor begins to question his own life.
DAY FIVE: Fairy Tale
One of Du Maurier's early stories, the plot is very simple. A woman lives in poverty while her husband gambles away everything they have. One day he returns with some interesting news. Not one of Du Maurier's better stories as it lacks in the sinister atmosphere which she is so adept at creating.
DAY SIX: La Saint-Vierge
A sad tale from The Rendezvous collection. La Saint-Vierge tells the story of a young woman's desperate love for an underserving man. Where Du Maurier chooses to end this story is key in underlining the man's exploitation of his young wife.
DAY SEVEN: Indiscretion
A clever story with one of Du Maurier's trademark surprising but unfortunate endings. From the Rendezvous collection, this explores a romantic indiscretion that has severe consequences for the main character. Full of suspense and atmosphere, I recommend this one, especially for Du Maurier newcomers, as it offers a real taste of her style.
DAY EIGHT: The Old Man
From The Birds collection, The Old Man is quite a disturbing tale. I won't say too much about this one as it might give away the ending. Again it is a brilliant example of Du Maurier's ability to build suspense and keep the reader reflecting on the story long after they've finished reading.
DAY NINE: The Lover
From The Rendezvous collection, The Lover takes the reader on a journey through three different stages of the love affair (the beginning, the middle and the end) in a way that highlights the man's exploitation of his female loves. This one is definitely worth a read.
DAY TEN: The Closing Door
Another one from The Rendezvous collection, The Closing Door focuses on the perspective of a man diagnosed with a terminal illness. Beginning very well with a compelling doctor patient meeting, this one seems to tail off, going in a completely different direction half way through. Not one of my favourites so far.
DAY ELEVEN: Adieu Sagesse
Adieu Sagesse is also from The Rendezvous collection and follows Richard Ferguson as he contemplates leaving his family for an adventure on the open seas. Set against the backdrop of town gossip, this element almost has a feel of Jane Austen about it.
DAY TWELVE: Leading Lady
From The Rendezvous collection, Leading Lady is a tale of manipulation and deceit. Lacking in confidence and fearing for her future career, an actress cheats a fellow actor out of a part to preserve her own position. An interesting insight into what lengths a desperate person will go to.
DAY THIRTEEN: Don't Look Now
This a chilling story about a couple who travel to Venice after the death of their young daughter. Here they meet two women who claim to be gifted with second sight. Meanwhile something terrible is plaguing Venice's streets.
With haunting descriptions of Venice and a skilfully portrayed emotional context of fear and distance, this is a terrifying tale and not one that you should miss out on. I have to admit that I have read this one before and will definitely read it again. If you're visiting Venice this year, you have found your holiday read. This is one of my favourite Du Maurier stories and is equally as engaging, intelligent and exciting as her longer and more well known works.
Don't Look Now was made into a film in 1973, just two years after it was published, and opened to critical acclaim. I've been intending to buy this film for a while now and after reading the story again I will do so as a matter of urgency!
If you're thinking something's amiss then you're right. I had to take a few days off from my challenge. But I'm back now and with 26 stories in my possession, I'm now half way there.
DAY FOURTEEN: The Escort
Another one from The Rendezvous collection, this is very atmospheric story about a ship in distress during war time. I won't say too much, as I don't want to give away the ending but it's one of my favourites from The Rendezvous collection so far.
DAY FIFTEEN: Angels and Archangels
As with Leading Lady, this story deals with a selfish individual who puts self-preservation before everything else. The context of class, wealth vs poverty and the church make this particularly poignant. From The Rendezvous collection.
DAY SIXTEEN (TODAY): The Rendezvous
The Rendezvous is brimming with sexual tension between two unequal characters - an ageing male writer and a young female shop assistant. After writing to each other for months, the pair meet and it becomes apparent that she is has fallen for another man. The writer, our male protagonist, grapples with his insecurities, making for a painfully enjoyable read. With all of DuMaurier's classic themes, this one is definitely recommended.