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Daphne du Maurier

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There Are Some Secrets by Sara Sass - reviewed by Ann Willmore

There are Some Secrets, the newly published book by Sara Sass

The Daphne du Maurier website recently received an email from the author, Sara Sass, telling us about her newly published book, There Are Some Secrets.  Sara lives in the US.  She grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania, gained a degree in biomechanical engineering and then went on to study law.  Every summer of law school, to escape legal texts for a while, Sara read about one author from the western canon.  The first summer, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald, the second was Ernest Hemmingway, and the third was J.M. Barrie.  The more Sara read about Barrie, the more another name kept cropping up, that of Edward Verall Lucas (E.V. Lucas).



                E.V. Lucas and J.M. Barrie

There Are Some Secrets is a slim volume packed with fascinating facts.  The book is principally about E.V. Lucas, his life and work, his family, friends and colleagues.  While not specifically a du Maurier related biography, it includes lots of information about J.M. Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family, so we think it will be of interest to many of you who enjoy reading around the history of the du Maurier family.

To put the family connection into context, George and Emma du Maurier, Daphne du Maurier’s paternal grandparents, had five children, the youngest of whom was Gerald, Daphne’s father.  Gerald worked closely with the playwright and author J.M. Barrie on many occasions, and he became a close family friend.  Gerald even met his future wife, Muriel Beaumont, when they were both cast in the same play, The Admirable Crichton.

The middle child in George and Emma’s family was Sylvia.  She married Arthur Llewelyn Davies, and they had five sons, George, John (‘Jack’), Peter, Michael and Nicholas (‘Nico’).  J.M. Barrie befriended the boys and became close friends with their parents, particularly Sylvia.  Barrie created the story of Peter Pan for the Llewelyn Davis boys.  It formed part of the games they played together and eventually became the play and the story many of us know so well.  Sadly, Arthur and Sylvia died of cancer when their boys were still young, after which J.M. Barrie adopted them.

Sylvia and Arthur Llewelyn Davies          

E.V. Lucas was an editor, author, publisher, critic and worldwide traveller and travel writer.  From relatively humble beginnings, he became central to the glittering literati circle of the early 20th century, making many friends, including A.A. Milne, Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy and J.M. Barrie.  E.V. Lucas, A.A. Milne and the illustrator E.H. Shepard all worked at Punch magazine at the beginning of the 20th century.  Lucas introduced Shepard to Milne, resulting in their wonderful collaboration with the Winnie the Pooh books. J.M. Barrie and E.V. Lucas shared many similar interests, not least their political beliefs and their shared love of cricket. 

E.V. Lucas and his wife Elizabeth had a daughter, Audrey, similar in age to the younger Llewelyn Davies boys.  A close bond was formed between the Lucas family, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and J.M. Barrie.  This friendship continued after Sylvia’s death, and Audrey spent a lot of time with the boys as they grew up, even going on holidays with them.  Elizabeth was a good friend of J.M. Barrie in her own right.  During WW1, she ran Bettancourt, a large chateau, in the war zone, near Verdun in France, as an orphanage for the local French children, found starving and abandoned by war.  This venture was supported and financed mainly by J.M. Barrie.  Audrey spent time helping at the orphanage during her school holidays.

There Are Some Secrets takes you through the fascinating life of E.V. Lucas, introduces you to his friends and associates and provides an insight into the life of J.M. Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t have an index, something I find frustrating in a factual book. However, it does have an excellent Appendix, which provides you with information about the books that Sara used in her research and many website links, making further information instantly accessible to the reader.

There Are Some Secrets is a delightful and absorbing read and includes lots of interesting information. 

Copies are available from Bookshops in the UK and the US or online via HIVE  or Amazon.   ISBN: 9781639880102.

© Ann Willmore November 2021.

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