Book Review: The Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne duMaurier

Title: The Doll: The Lost Short Stories
Author: Daphne duMaurier
Genre: Short fiction
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the publisher for tour with TLC Book Tours
First line: Nearly a hundred miles west of the Scillies, far from the main track of ships, lies the small, rocky island of St. Hilda’s.

Back cover blurb: Before she wrote Rebecca, the novel that would cement her reputation as a twentieth-century literary giant, a young Daphne du Maurier penned short fiction in which she explored the images, themes, and concerns that informed her later work. Originally published in periodicals during the early 1930s, many of these stories never found their way into print again…until now.

Tales of human frailty and obsession, and of romance gone tragically awry, the thirteen stories in The Doll showcase an exciting budding talent before she went on to write one of the most beloved novels of all time. In these pages, a waterlogged notebook washes ashore revealing a dark story of jealousy and obsession, a vicar coaches a young couple divided by class issues, and an older man falls perilously in love with a much younger woman – with each tale demonstrating du Maurier’s extraordinary storytelling gifts and her deep understanding of human nature.

Daphne du Maurier is a brilliant writer, and these stories definitely showcase this talent. However, the main impression I was left after finishing was that she has a very poor opinion of romantic relationships. Actually, I don’t think she liked people in general! If there was a cohesive theme in this collection, it was that true love doesn’t ever work out the way you expect, that people are manipulative and petty and unfaithful, and that romance is not really worth a person’s time.

That said, I don’t regret having read this collection, because it makes me want to read Rebecca again – it’s been a long time. And there were a couple of stories that I enjoyed: “Frustration,” in which a honeymooning couple is repeatedly foiled in their attempts to consummate their union; and “Week-End,” in which a couple madly in love on Friday afternoon can’t stand each other by Sunday night.

I think I would have enjoyed these stories more if I had sampled it slowly – dipping in and out, reading one at a time. Then I wouldn’t have experienced such a steady dose of cynicism and darkness. Because this is du Maurier, I still rated the book three stars, as you simply can’t ignore how beautifully she puts words together.

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15 Responses to Book Review: The Doll: The Lost Short Stories by Daphne duMaurier

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I think you are right on. I’ve never read a single thing that suggests she believes that relationships can be healthy or lasting! I don’t know if you follow Raych, but she did her thesis on Du Maurier, and there was definitely some less than palatable early works.

  2. Kailana says:

    Yes, I have heard that du Maurier was never very trusting of relationships. I don’t think she had a happy marriage herself. It stands to reason it will turn up in her writing. So, I guess if anything the collection is slightly about her.

  3. Grand Old Movies
    Twitter: GrandOldMovies
    says:

    Thanks for your informative post. I admire DuMaurier’s writing and will definitely look up this book, which I hadn’t heard of before.

  4. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    That doesn’t sound like a book to read during the holidays!

  5. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    I have this on my wish list because of Rebecca. I just adored that novel so very much.

  6. Pingback: Daphne du Maurier, author of The Doll, on tour November/December | TLC Book Tours

  7. I know what you mean about reading too much about a depressing theme in one sitting – sounds like these stories are meant to be read in small doses.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this collection for the tour!

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