In celebration of the centenary of the birth of Daphne Du Maurier born on 13th May 1907, I thought I'd celebrate with a Daphne read this week.The plan was then to write a wildly enthusiastic birthday post urging the world and its mother to Pick Up a Daphne... but something strange happened.
My interest had been piqued by The Daphne Du Maurier Companion edited by Helen Taylor which I discovered on my trip to London a few weeks ago.It hasn't appeared on the shelves down here yet which confirms the wisdom of an occasional journey to the big smoke to hang out in bookshops and browse.
Rebecca is the definitive book that I consider to be my first read as a grown up, when I was fourteen and on a family holiday in St Ives.
I knew once I'd finished it that I'd never read as a child again.It then became imperative to read whatever I could lay my hands on and My Cousin Rachel was next.
So I embarked on another read of My Cousin Rachel last week;we're talking nearly forty years on and gallons of reading water under the bridge and somehow it didn't work. I could feel the disappointment rising as I read the first sixty pages and so I did something completely unheard of here and skipped to the last sixty because I knew instantly I was in danger of breaking the spell that Daphne Du Maurier's writing had cast all those years ago.
I needed to remind myself of the plot but that was all.
Sally Beauman's piece in the companion cites My Cousin Rachel as Daphne Du Maurier's final great bestseller, "a last throwing down of the novelistic gauntlet" although it came only halfway through her writing career.
I'll read the Companion because it's a fascinating insight into Daphne Du Maurier's life and work and of course browse again through Margaret Forster's seminal biography but beyond that for now I think I may just let Daphne rest in peace.
Retain precious and intact that memory of the impact her writing had on me as a teenager.
But please don't let that put anyone else off picking up a Daphne and reading her with huge enjoyment because she richly deserves to be read and remembered.
Happy Centenary Daphne.