Writer: Daphne du Maurier
Publishing House: Penguin Books Ltd.
Date of Publication: June 29th 2006 (first published 1940)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’The twins were standing there, the blind one still holding on to her sister’s arm, her sightless eyes fixed firmly upon him. He felt himself held, unable to move, and an impending sense of doom, of tragedy, came upon him. His whole being ragged, as it were, in apathy, and he thought, ‘This is the end, there is no escape, no future.’’
On the back cover of this edition, there is a quote found in the Daily Telegraph, ‘Du Maurier has no equal.’ The truth of these words can be found in practically every work of hers. She created a seamless blend of reality and the world beyond. She hypnotizes the readers and they find themselves in a conundrum of darkness and doubt where the only explanation is the least plausible one, where you simply have to believe that the solution to each mystery cannot be found within the mortal world. And when the (very) realistic closure kicks in, you are left speechless. Many consider Rebecca as their favourite, but for me, the masterpiece that contains every element I have come to associate with Du Maurier’s brilliance is Don’t Look Now.
‘’The canal was narrow, the houses on either side seemed to close in upon it, and in the daytime, with the sun’s reflection on the water and the windows of the houses open, bedding upon the balconies, a canary singing in a cage, there had been an impression of warmth, of secluded shelter. Now, ill-lit, almost in darkness, the windows of the houses shuttered, the water dark, the scene appeared altogether different, neglected, poor, and the long narrow boats moored to the slippery steps of cellar entrances looked like coffins.’’
Don’t Look Now: There could have been no other setting for this unique story of loss, premonition, omens and raw violence. The fragile balance between a couple that tries to get through the loos of their daughter sets the scene for a tour-de-force in the City of Cities, where blood is found in the dark waters of the canals and strange presences haunt the narrow corners. Where footsteps don’t cease to follow you…
‘’Most of the fairy lights had been extinguished, but the chalet that stood on its own, on the extreme point still had its light burning in the balcony.’’
Not After Midnight: A teacher decides to spend his off-season holidays in Crete, the land of myths where antiquity is mirrored in every corner. When he meets a bizarre married couple, he finds himself involved in shady situations that take place after midnight…One of the most powerful twists that can be found in Du Maurier’s stories and a hymn to the past of Greece’s most famous island.
‘’The trouble with you is, Jinnie, you must grow up. You live in a dream world that doesn’t exist. That’s why you opted for the stage’. Her father’s voice, indulgent, but firm. ‘’One of these days’, he added, ‘ you’ll come to with a shock.’’
A Border- Line Case: When Jinni’s father dies in front of her eyes, she finds herself on the verge of an absolute break-down. In her attempt to leave everything behind and find some peace of mind, she meets a mysterious man and becomes involved in the Troubles. Her adventure will give her – and us – a tremendous shock.
‘’Jesus was doing precisely the same thing two thousand years ago.’’
The Way of the Cross: A group of tourists from England bite more than they can chew during their visit to the Holy Lands. As no one seems to be there for the sake of their faith and as everyone seems utterly incapable of grasping or feeling the reverence with which Jerusalem must be approached, they find themselves amidst marital problems, pseudo-political and social dilemmas, stupid accidents and all their vices are exposed. This is poignant social satire at its finest.
The Breakthrough: A group of scientists try to prove that intelligence may survive with the human body after its death. I admit I didn’t like this one. Did it seem a bit silly? Dated? Oh, well, it hardly matters.
Nowadays, we tend to compare every novel that may sound remotely ‘’Gothic’’ to Du Maurier’s work and style.
‘’The air was sharp and clean, like a sword’s blade. No wind – the air alone made the cutting edge. The stony path led downwards, steep and narrow, bound on either side by walls. […] Tonight with the pale yellow moon coming up behind is and the dark sky above our heads, even the low hum of the traffic beneath us on the main road to Jericho seems to blend and merge into the silence. As the steep path descended so the city rose, and the valley separating it from the Mount of Olives down which they walked became sombre, black, like a winding river-bed. Mosques, domes, spires, towers, the roof-tops of myriad human dwellings fused together, blotted against the sky, and only the walls of the city remained, steadfast on the opposite hill, a threat, a challenge.’’