The Doll: The Lost Short Stories

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The lost stories of Daphne du Maurier, collected in one volume for the first time.

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 . . ...

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The lost stories of Daphne du Maurier, collected in one volume for the first time.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This collection of early stories, some originally published in a now out-of-print volume, vividly portrays with humor, candidness, and detail du Maurier’s fascination with the problems of human connection, particularly when it comes to love. Characters feel neglected, desired then abandoned, and often confused as they try to understand their partners. A man becomes obsessed with a beautiful stranger named Rebecca, but the closer he gets to her, the more sinister she seems, in “The Doll,” a precursor to the eponymous novel: “I loved you too much, wanted you too much, had for you too great a tenderness. Now all of this is like a twisted root in my heart, a deadly poison in my brain. You have made of me a madman.” A young couple find that their affection may easily unravel, given a few wrong turns, in “Week-End.” In “The Limpet,” Dilly, who worries that her weakness for wanting to help people will ruin her, becomes a servant to the wishes of others. But doting Dilly may not be quite what she seems. Characters in du Maurier’s world are often lost, manipulative, or misguided, and these stories, written before she was 23, foreshadow the themes and preoccupations of the work that would bring her literary fame. (Nov.)
New York Times Book Review
“…delectably florid….”
New York Times Book Review
“…delectably florid….”
Kirkus Reviews
Early work by the author of Rebecca and other bestsellers, some written while du Maurier (1907-1989) was still in her teens, brings back the era when short stories were popular entertainment. There are no impressionistic mood poems or anything else in the oblique, meticulously crafted style favored by creative-writing workshops in this collection. From the opening story of adultery and murder on a remote island ("East Wind") to the closing narrative of a woman who sucks the life from everyone she knows, all the while asking "What is it that I do?" ("The Limpet"), du Maurier favors strong plots, overt irony and heavy foreshadowing. When the protagonist of "Nothing Hurts for Long," waiting eagerly for her husband to return from three months in Berlin, listens to the confidences of a friend whose spouse wants a divorce and learns that the couple has been on the rocks "ever since he came back from America," readers can be quite sure the post-Berlin reunion will not be blissful. And only the narrator of "The Doll" can't guess before his tale's final pages the perverted nature of his beloved's relationship with a life-sized mannequin she calls Julio. They may not be subtle, but all 13 stories are effective and gripping. "And Now to God the Father" is a scathing portrait of a smug, self-satisfied minister who worships nothing but social success. "Piccadilly" and "Mazie" paint a grim picture of a prostitute's life. Two persuasive chronicles of love affairs going sour strike contrasting notes: one couple breaks up over the course of a grimly funny "Week-End," while "And His Letters Grew Colder" takes six painful months to trace the downward spiral from a romance's ardent beginning to the man's cold-as-ice departure. Du Maurier's prose style is serviceable, her understanding of human nature basic, but her storytelling gifts are formidable, and a good story is what was demanded by the mass-circulation magazines that published her. On that level, she never disappoints. Old-fashioned fun.
The Barnes & Noble Review

Daphne du Maurier's best-known novel, Rebecca, is a romantic swoon of a book that opens with the famous incantation, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." It is also a sadomasochistic nightmare and a daring portrait of female humiliation. For du Maurier, like most thriller writers, was a literary subversive, and her fiction, despite its twin-set- and-pearls decorum, presents an unsettling vision of sex, cruelty, and class. Now The Doll: The Lost Short Stories provides a glimpse of that vision in the making.

This slim volume contains eight stories that were originally published in the U.K. volume Early Stories and five that first appeared in periodicals during the 1930s. With the exception of "The Limpet" (1959), all were written before du Maurier had reached the age of twenty-three, and they are, for the most part, experiments in gothic horror, Victorian melodrama, farce, fantasy, and interior monologue. Naturally, the result is uneven. The writing is at times clumsy and overwrought and the denouements often comically predictable. Yet the young du Maurier strives for — and occasionally achieves — the intimate tone that would endear her to generations of readers. An excited wife, for example, anticipates the homecoming of her traveling husband. "She had the window flung open as she dressed. The morning air was cold, but she liked to feel the sharp air on her face, stinging her?and she slapped herself, the colour coming into her skin, the nerves tingling." A cross between Mrs. Dalloway and Madame Butterfly, the childlike bride is predictably demeaned by her caddish husband. The two may deserve each other, however, and that suspicion fosters a creeping unease, one that du Maurier later injects so skillfully in her suspense novels.

Many du Maurier themes are foreshadowed. In "Happy Valley," a fey young woman longs for "something that would bring her security and peace like the tangled path in her dream" and finds it in marriage, only to discover that her dream is also a premonition of horror. Characters are habitually pulled from one reality into another through a tear in the fabric of time or consciousness. The island folk in "East Wind" fall under the demonic spell of sinister visitors. The hero of "The Doll," besotted with a tempestuous Rebecca, stumbles upon her hideous sexual secret, while the virginal heroine of "Tame Cat" stumbles into the grimy paws of her mother's lover.

"What on earth have you done to your hair?" the returning husband asks his fawning wife in "Nothing Hurts for Long," and we hear Maxim de Winter in Rebecca teasing his mousy bride. There are premonitions of other novels, The House on the Strand and Don't Look Now among them, and in du Maurier's 1959 story "The Limpet" we observe the career of a pathological manipulator and see how the character of Mrs. Danvers might have taken shape. It is difficult to read these stories without making such connections, although some stand alone, albeit shakily. "And Now to God the Father," for example, is a fine portrait of a vain and ambitious minister "who was careful never to speak about God," but the satire is marred by melodrama. Most striking of all is the youthful du Maurier's fascination with innocence and violation; the dark side of this most respectable suspense writer.

Anna Mundow writes "The Interview" and the "Historical Novels" columns for The Boston Globe and is a contributor to The Irish Times.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062080349
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 289,114
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) has been called one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination. Among her more famous works are The Scapegoat, Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and the short story The Birds, all of which were subsequently made into films, the latter three directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 28, 2011

    Great gift!

    I have a friend who just loves Daphne du Maurier and you should have seen her eyes when she opened this! I'm sure it is a great book for du Maurier lovers!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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