Title: The Doll: The Lost Short Stories
Author: Daphne duMaurier
Genre: Short fiction
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.