Recommended Reads for Winter 2019 - 2020
As Christmas draws near, and the lists of preparations are completed, what better time is there to settle down to read an absorbing book or to consider a plan to read more in the coming year. After all, we know there is a long cold winter ahead, and there is nothing better than curling up in the warm, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and losing yourself in a good book. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere hot and sunny, then you need to find a shady place to read your book and drink your wine!
There are so many books published month on month and back catalogues of your favourite writers' works, but I will assume that you are keen to read something with a connection to Daphne du Maurier and that perhaps you have already read much of her work. May I also assure you that I am writing to the men as well as the women out there, and although my third book suggestion might sound like a bit of a feminist tome, the first copy I sold was to a man, so please do not be put off!
I have four books to suggest to you today and the first is Daphne du Maurier’s short story The Apple Tree, which I mentioned to you on our News Page back in October. The Apple Tree was first published by Victor Gollancz in 1952 when it was the titular story in a collection described as a short novel and several long stories. The volume also included The Birds, and once the Hitchcock film of that short story had established itself, the collection changed its name to The Birds and Other Stories. This collection was published in the USA as Kiss Me Again Stranger, the title of another story in the collection.
This December The Apple Tree was published as a stand-alone short story, in a series of Ghost Stories for Christmas, illustrated by Seth and published by Biblioasis in Canada. This edition is not very easy to find in the UK, but do persevere, because it is a delightful edition and a great wintertime/Christmas read. Here is a hint at the plot to pique your interest.
My second suggestion is a publication from the USA, entitled Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson, published by Quirk Books, USA. This book has been available in the UK since September. Here is what the publishers say.
Of course, Daphne du Maurier can be found among the one hundred plus authors. She is in Section Five: Haunting the Home. You will find an interesting biographical write up about her and references to Rebecca and her disturbing short story The Doll. For our British readers, I need to correct two small details; firstly, concerning Daphne’s husband, when someone receives an honour and becomes a Sir, they are referred to as, for example, Sir Frederick, not Sir Browning. Secondly, Daphne did not buy Menabilly, the house she lived in for about 26 years, and which is the setting for such novels as Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and The King’s General. She rented Menabilly from the Rashleigh family, who had owned the house since Tudor times and still do to this day. Aside from those two minor slips, this is an excellent piece about Daphne du Maurier within a book containing countless facts about the many authors that we have read or about whom you would like to know more.
My third suggestion is so new it has not yet officially been published; in fact, its publication date is 16th January 2020, and the book is called Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives by Professor Helen Taylor. This long-anticipated book has been in Helen’s mind for many years. During that time she has shared conversations, phone calls, emails and questionnaires with friends, family, colleagues, festival-goers, women (and men) of all ages up and down the country, in order to find the answers to the book that is now complete and answers the question that is the title. Here are a few words to introduce the book to you.
The book contains hundreds of references to many different authors and their works, but as we are on the Daphne du Maurier website let me assure you that there are plenty of references and pointers to Daphne and her writing.