read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

Daphne du Maurier

I'm currently reading All Quiet on the Western Front as my WW1 'remembrance' read leading up to the 11th. November - Armistice day. It's brilliant but hard going, so for light relief I started Myself When Young, Daphne du Maurier's autobiography of her life as a child (born 1907), teenager and young woman, up to when she married in 1932.

The idea was to read this slowly, interspersed with the other book, and I'd probably take a week or more to read it. Ho ho... I didn't bargain for an absolutely wonderful little book, so beautifully written that I wouldn't be able to leave it alone. Daphne du Maurier's background is not one I should have been able to identify with much. She was born into a privileged family, her father, Sir Gerald du Maurier, was a famous and successful actor, her grandfather, George, a famous novelist (author of Trilby) and artist. So money was no object. The three girls, Angela, Daphne and Jeanne, were educated privately and at home and then sent to finishing school in France. Throughout all this though, Daphne never really felt that she fitted in. She was a loner, an avid reader. She disliked the social whirl so intensely that she longed to be free of it all, resenting the fact that because she was born a woman this might not be possible. Eventually, of course the family discovered Cornwall and Daphne realised that that was where she was at her happiest, dressed any old how and messing about in boats or walking the cliffs - which is how she discovered a certain house called Menabilly...

I'm not usually one of these people who keeps checking to see how many pages are left till the end of book because I dread the end. The end is the end as far as I'm concerned - I don't generally hanker after more. I did in this instance though. When I read in the introduction that Myself When Young was meant to form part of a much longer autobiography that never got written, I felt bereft. I really, really want to know a lot more about this wonderful author's fascinating life. Luckily, there is what I gather to be an excellent biography by Margaret Forster, plus Daphne wrote other books about her family and in particular her father, Gerald, not to mention Vanishing Cornwall and Rebecca Notebook: And Other Memories both of them highly autobiographical I believe. I hope so, I really do. And I recommend this lovely book to anyone who has read and enjoyed any of Daphne's other titles - I can't imagine anyone not being delighted with it to be honest.
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