Monday, March 22, 2004

The DuMauriers

One of the books I’ve been reading is a history of the Du Maurier family, by Daphne Du Maurier, who wrote Rebecca, some books about Cornish grudges, and the bonkers time travel saga A House On The Strand.

The Du Mauriers is a marvellous book – terribly ahead of it’s time in that it’s novelised history (the kind of thing the 1980s thought they’d invented). It’s gripping, and upsetting and startlingly vivid, as she explains how her family evolved from the bastard offspring of a Duke’s prostitute and some penniless French nobles. It has everything – pettiness, insanity, and a wife whose husband leaves her on their wedding night while shaving.

One of the only disadvantages to this marvellous book is that Daphne insists on referring to household members by their childhood nicknames. So, George DuMaurier, artist, writer, and the inventor of the “Svengali” is referred to throughout as… Kicky.

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