Daphne

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"It is 1957, the author Daphne du Maurier, beautiful and famous, despairs as her marriage falls apart. Restlessly roaming through Menabilly, her remote mansion by the sea in Cornwall, she is haunted by regret and by her own creations - especially Rebecca, the heroine of her most famous novel. Seeking distraction from her misery, Daphne becomes passionately interested in Branwell, the reprobate brother of the Bronte sisters, and begins a correspondence with the enigmatic scholar Alex Symington as she researches a biography. But behind Symington's
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Daphne: A Novel

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Overview

"It is 1957, the author Daphne du Maurier, beautiful and famous, despairs as her marriage falls apart. Restlessly roaming through Menabilly, her remote mansion by the sea in Cornwall, she is haunted by regret and by her own creations - especially Rebecca, the heroine of her most famous novel. Seeking distraction from her misery, Daphne becomes passionately interested in Branwell, the reprobate brother of the Bronte sisters, and begins a correspondence with the enigmatic scholar Alex Symington as she researches a biography. But behind Symington's respectable surface is a slippery character with much to hide, and soon truth and fiction have become indistinguishable." "In present-day London, a lonely young woman, newly married after a fleeting courtship with a man considerably older than her, struggles with her Ph.D. thesis on du Maurier and the Brontes. Her husband, still seemingly in thrall to his brilliant, charismatic first wife, is frequently distant and mysterious, and she can't find a way to make the large, imposing house in Hampstead feel like her own. Retreating instead into the comfort of her library, she becomes absorbed in a fifty-year-old literary mystery..." The last untold Bronte story, Daphne is a tale of obsession and possession, of stolen manuscripts and forged signatures, of love lost and love found; a tantalizing literary mystery that takes its reader into the heart of Daphne du Maurier's world.
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Editorial Reviews

Nicholas Delbanco
Justine Picardie's Daphne is a complicated tale-within-a-tale about literary detective work, the tangled web we weave when trying to make sense of earlier deception…the reader need not be a devotee of Branwell Bronte or Daphne du Maurier or even the Gothic genre to take pleasure in this novel; the butterflies are brightly colored and the display well-lit.
—The Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews
The life of Daphne du Maurier (1907-89), popular author of romantic suspense fiction, including the classic Rebecca, is the inspiration for veteran author Picardie's speculative biographical novel. The action spans the years 1957-60 and evolves from the conflicting ambitions of three major characters. Primus inter pares is du Maurier herself, now 50, internationally famous and more than financially secure (thanks in part to Alfred Hitchcock's tingling film version of Rebecca). She is nevertheless troubled by the infidelity of her oafish husband Tommy, and by stalled work on her definitive biography of the "other" Bronte: the celebrated sisters' unstable brother Branwell, believed by many (including Daphne) to be the real genius of the insular Yorkshire clan. But the Brontes have of course spawned a competitive army of scholars, and Daphne's fears that her original work will be ignored or overshadowed are exacerbated by the machinations of John Alexander Symington, curator of the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth (and also a real person, to whom a scandalous reputation still adheres). The third protagonist is an initially unnamed doctorate student who is researching the carefully sheltered life of-you guessed it, reader-eminent author Daphne du Maurier. Picardie has assembled promising ingredients for a literature-inflected satirical mystery, perhaps along the lines of Angus Wilson's Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, or even Vladimir Nabokov's ineffably mischievous Pale Fire. But Daphne is dull, its inherently dramatic romantic-Gothic materials flattened into tiresome scholarspeak and redundant exchanges of discoveries and theories among rival researchers. One admires Picardie's own evidentlyscrupulous research, but it remains fodder for discussion, inert and unwelcoming on every page. Nor has Picardie escaped the trap of attempting to persuade readers of the "genius" of a might-have-been about whom far too little is known. A century and a half after Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and those sly Brontes still decline to divulge their secrets.
From the Publisher
“An engrossing and absorbing read…Superbly evoked…Clearly Picardie has lived, breathed, eaten and drunk her heroine, absorbed her, analyzed her, understood her…investing her portrait with an authenticity that is breathtaking.”—Los Angeles Times

“Like a du Maurier novel, mystery and gothic plotting make the novel a page-turner…A novel for anyone who loves novels.”—Booklist

“This glorious novel…is a divine treat for lovers of literary mysteries.”—Times (London)

“An absolute gem of a novel.”—Library Journal

“Merging fact and fiction, all three narratives come together brilliantly in the end.”—More

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596913417
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 8/5/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Justine Picardie is the author of My Mother’s Wedding Dress, If the Spirit Moves You, and Wish I May, a novel. Formerly the features editor of British Vogue and editor of the Observer magazine, she lives in London and writes a column for the Sunday Telegraph.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 2, 2013

    Lovely read

    If you are looking for sex, drugs and rock and roll, look somewhere else. This is a civilized mystery and literary treasure hunt. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the plot. I will readily recommend this novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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