Reviews for Doll : The Lost Short Stories

Booklist Reviews 2011 October #1
Daphne du Maurier had been writing stories for several years before her first novel was published in 1931. This volume brings together a number of those early works, written for the most part between 1926 and 1932, though some were not published until years later, and some have just recently been rediscovered. The stories are best read to see how du Maurier develops her voice and how she begins to work with some of the themes found in her masterpiece, Rebecca. The overwrought title story, for example, is a tale of jealousy and obsession and even shares with the novel a seductress named Rebecca. In "Tame Cat," a naive young woman discovers that being grown-up is "a sordid tissue of intimate relationships." In several stories, du Maurier turns a penetrating eye on the complications of marriage. Romance goes wrong, sexuality is generally destructive. Students of du Maurier rather than fans of Rebecca constitute the natural audience for this collection, making it best suited to larger collections. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 October #2
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. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 September #2

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.)

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