Review: Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson

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This year I’ve been reading going back to read older books that I’ve missed or couldn’t find or…whatever! Today I’m reviewing one such book–Mrs. Tim of the Regiment. I love fictional diaries or novels with letters or e-mails or whatever and this is in that genre known official as epistolary novels–if you like them as well, you may want to see my posts on such books, linked at the bottom of this review.

Also at the bottom, you can see a far more handsome book jacket for this volume. Tartan! Or, as we say in America: Plaid! Love it, no matter which word you use.

The Story

“Husbands are annoying at times, but they are a habit which grows on one, and life is extraordinarily dull without them.” (p. 89)

Hester Christie is married to a young officer, Tim, and is the mother of Bryan (at his first boarding school) and Betty (at home with the governess).  Set in the early 1930s, the Christies are among the officer class in every way, but like many such people in the years after the Great War (World War I) their finances were not always up to the task. They do have one or two female servants and had a governess, but the motor? Not up to the standards of the class. Ditto their wardrobes. None-the-less Hester carries on, upholding the traditions of officers wives even when it means serving tinned soup!

“Tim says we ought to go to the parish church [in Scotland] which is Presbyterian, of course….I point out that we have no books, but Tim says they don’t have prayer books, but just make it up as they go along—Grace says she thinks it is very clever of them.” (p. 119)

The story takes place when Tim is posted to a Territorial Regiment (i.e. National Guard to Americans) in Scotland. This necessitates moving house not long after having moved to their current abode. Hester’s diary takes us thru the whole move in delightful fashion. Then, heavens! Someone up the Army List (that is the line for promotion) retires and Tim must go back whence they came! All of this results in Hester going on a holiday with her daughter to Scotland to recover. Such was life in those days. Someone “one” knew always had an estate in Scotland where “one” could relax at a house party, didn’t “one?”

My Thoughts

I loved this story–although, in the interest of honesty, the trip to Scotland was about as boring to read about as it must have been to experience had this been real life. I ended up skimming it. No matter, I’ll definitely read more in this series, but that part of the book took my rating down a good bit.

FYI: The Diary of a Provincial Lady series can be seen as the civilian counterpart to the Mrs. Tim series.

Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson

My Rating

3 Stars

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If you enjoy epistolary novels:

Dear Mrs. Byrd and More Epistolary Novels Read Recently

(This is my most recent epistolary novel post)

Epistolary Books Part I

Epistolary Part II

Favorite Epistolary Books and Novels

Fictional Diaries

 

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Book List for Class on Foodie Life

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So math isn’t my strong suit. Today you get a Double Top 5 Wednesday!

This week’s topic is books for a class–I choose a class on living a foodie life! I may just teach this someday–maybe at a public library? A foodie book group? Fun!

 

Just one of my reminders that, even when you click on a link to book in Amazon, I do not make any money off this blog.

 

Nonfiction

 

1. A Boat, a Whales & a Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson &Jess Thomson. My review.

2. My Berlin Kitchen: Adventures in Love and Life by Luisa Weiss. My review.

3. On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Hermann Loomis. My review.

4. Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julia Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child [I’m counting these as one since both are Julia]. The movie Julie & Julia is one of the few movies I’ve ever enjoyed as much or more (yes, More!) than the book!

5. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

6. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This gets a tad precious in places, but is still excellent.

 

Foodie Life for Normal People:

5.  Dinner a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. My review.

6. Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table With Recipes by Shauna Neiquist. You can read my thoughts on this book in this post.

 

Fiction

7. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stadal. My review.

For those who enjoy a little touch of fantasy or paranormal (neither of these are my thing, but I LOVED these books.)

8. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

9. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

 

Join the Top 5 Wednesday group at Goodreads.com and then do your own Top 5 post of video! It’s fun!

Other Foodie Posts:

Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned in Books

 

Shared Royal Birthdays and More Interesting Royal Dates

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Shared Birthdays

The Two August Babies

See those children on the left? [see photo above] Princess Margaret, in front of her grandfather King George V, and the Hon. Gerald Lascelles, in front of his father the then Viscount Lascelles [Later Earl of Harewood]. These two share the same birthday, albeit six years apart. Both Gerald (1924) and Margaret (1930) were born on August 21st. You can read more about Gerald’s fascinating parents’ and their cross-generational romance HERE.

The Two Christmas Babies

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Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (the only in-law not born a royal ever allowed to call herself “Princess”) was born Christmas Day 1901.  Her husband’s niece, Princess Alexandra of Kent, was born Christmas Day 1936–the Year of The Three Kings. She had the name “Christabel” added to her string of names in honor of being born on Christmas Day. Her parents were the current Queen’s Uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent and Prince Philip’s first cousin, Princess Marina of Greece.

February 25, 1883 – Birth of Princess Alice of Albany, the last surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle
February 25, 1885 – Birth of Princess Alice of Battenberg, mother of Prince Philip, wife of Prince Andrew of Greece, at Windsor Castle

These two even swapped places as a bridesmaid in a royal wedding. When one couldn’t get there the other was given the job!

A Dig at Dad? Married on Papa’s Birthday

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The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (aka King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson) were married June 3, 1937. The Duke’s late father, King George V, was born June 3, 1865. He famously said “When I am gone the boy [his eldest son] will ruin himself in a year.” In fact it didn’t take quite that long.

 

The Eternal Day of Gloom and a Birth That Did Not Amuse Queen Victoria

 

Victoria’s beloved Albert Dies and her poor Great-Grandson has the audacity to be BORN on the anniversary! Prince Albert of York (George VI) is beside Queen Victoria standing in front. Yes, boys wore dresses then.

This was a very, very important date until Victoria died in 1901. Royals trooped en masse to dear Albert’s resting place, like it or not.

Here are all the royal deaths, and that one birth, that occurred on this date:

  • December 14, 1861–Death of Prince Albert (the Prince Consort) Queen Victoria’s beloved husband.
  • December 14, 189  Birth of Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George of York, later King George VI (father of the current Queen)
  • December 14, 1878 Death of Princess Alice of Hesse (2nd Daughter of Queen Victoria and Great-Grandmother of Prince Philip)
  • December 14, 1945 Death of the Countess of Southesk, aka HH Princess Maud of Fife (Granddaughter of King Edward VII)

 

The Royal Leap Year Baby

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James Robert Bruce Ogilvy, son of Princess Alexandra and the Hon. [later Sir] Angus Ogilvy was born on Febrary29, 1964–Leap Year Day.  He went to boarding school with Prince Edward and former Prime Minister David Cameron. James is also the name-sake Godfather of Prince Edward’s son, Viscount Severn–youngest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth.

 

Celebrate Your Brother’s Birthday by Holding Your Wedding On His Birthday!

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November 14, 1973 was Prince Charles’ 25th birthday, so Princess Anne celbrated by getting married! Her wedding to first husband, Mark Phillips, was held in Westminster Abbey with only two attendants–her little brother, Prince Edward and their first cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. She’d said she had seen “yards of uncontrollable children” at too many weddings. Since she regularly served tours of duty as an in-demand society bridesmaid as a child and teen she knew what she was talking about!

Sadly, their first child, Peter Phillips, missed being born on his parents’ fourth wedding anniversary by only a few hours. He was born November 15, 1977.

 

Easiest Birthday to Remember!

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Princess Beatrice of York, daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, was born on 8-8-’88, August 8, 1988.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Back to School or Learning Freebie

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Back to School/Learning Freebie (in honor of school starting back up soon, come up with your own topic that fits the theme of school or learning! Books that take place at school/boarding school/during study abroad, books you read in school, textbooks you liked/didn’t like, non-fiction books you loved or want to read, etc.)

 

 

Here are my School Book posts. I LOVE books about school–both fiction and non-fiction. Please click the links below to see my choices.

 

Favorite School Novels–Part I

Favorite School Books and Movies

Favorite School Books–the Next Four

You can participate in Top Ten Tuesday. Go to That Artsy Reader Gal’s Top 10 Tuesday page for the rules and weekly topics, then go back to her main page that Tuesday and post your link! It’s simple and fun!

Review: Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

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My Mom and I share book recommendations all the time. When she left this audiobook for me and insisted I make time for it I…well…I did! And, I’m glad. I’ve let thrillers fall out of my reading life for the most part in the last few years. Too much profanity. Too much violence. Too creepy. But this one! Wow! I sat in the driveway and listened to more each night! I didn’t want to stop!

The Story

Vivian and Matt are a perfect 30-something couple with four young children, a mortgage they can barely afford and careers in tech (Matt) and the CIA Russian counter-intelligence unit (Vivian). [This caught my attention right away. Lots of my fellow Russian Studies students went on to careers in the CIA and NSA and the military. It was fun conguring up faces from the past to populate those desks!] One day everything Vivian thought she “knew” about her life changes when she opens a document and discovers…. [Sorry, can’t do spoilers!] There is another reason this book attracted MY interest and now my son’s interest, but to explain that would also be a spoiler.

Everything about this story rang true to a non-CIA employee except maybe the plot was a bit….but who knows? I somehow envisioned Nicholas Cage as one of the major characters near the end of the story and Christopher Plummer as Peter, but couldn’t cast anyone else–my knowledge of 20/30-something actors and actresses needs to expand. No matter this will be a tremendous movie and, apparently, is already cast with (click the link to read more)  Charlie Theron as Vivian.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

My Rating

4 Stars

 

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Review: The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

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As you may know, The Penderwicks series is a big, big favorite of mine! The sweet, but not precious, story of Rosalind, Jane, Skye and Batty Penderwick is everything a children’s family series should be–decent morals, but not Pollyanna-ish, believeable, true to the day, but not distressingly “gritty.” I’ve loved this family and their story since the get-go.  With this addition to the series, the (sob) fifth and final Penderwicks book, I am at a loss–what will I do without a new Penderwicks book every few years? They are like family now.

The Story

For a few books now, there have been two “new” Penderwicks–the first four were joined by little step-brother Ben when Mr. Pendewick, long widowed, happily remarries and Ianthe brings her son into the family.  After their marriage they have a daughter, Lydia. This book brings the family full-circle, back to the youngest Penderwick and a special dog–just like Batty and Hound in the first book. And what a great dog Hitch is!

Today the first four are grown-ups. Batty is in college, Skye in graduate school, Jane is writing but not published yet and Rosalind is about to marry you-know-who [no spoilers]. And they have come full-circle in another way as well: it’s another summer at Arundel, Jeffrey’s fabulous home–which Jeffrey has made available to the family for the wedding. Instead of a little boy for a friend, this time there’s another little girl just Lydia’s age to add to the fun–Alice, daughter of Cagney the ever-present Arundel manager/handyman. Of course Jeffrey and his nemisis-mother, Mrs. Tifton are back as well.

Everything I love about this series is still here. As an adult, who has read all the other books, I found it a little bit too eager to repeat stories from the first book. But, if I was 11 and had read the first book in first grade I’d probably be glad for those reminders.  I loved the fact that the tension in the book was never thriller-level, no one will stay awake with nightmares after a bedtime chapter! But what I loved most was the dangled possibility of a new series with Lydia and Alice and Jack. It was not actually mentioned or really even hinted by the author, but my brain said “oh, this would work,” so I hope I’m right!

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

If You Like the Penderwicks

 

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If you and your family enjoy(ed) the Penderwicks series, take a step back to the days of the 1930s-1940s and enjoy another great family series, The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright.

 

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Or, if you prefer current-day families, check out a British series I absolutely adore (and wish yet again that the autor would write a grown-ups novel of the parents’ marriage!) The Casson Family Story Collection by Hilary McKay. Here’s my review of Inigo’s Star (scroll down to see the review).

 

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Freebie–Dear Mrs Byrd & More Books Using Letters or Diaries in Storytelling

 

 

This week’s Top Five Wednesday is a Freebie week–choose your own topic, use one you skipped, etc. I happen to love novels and nonfiction that use diaries or letters or emails or texts to tell stories. I’ve done posts with collections of these that you can read, too. They are linked at the bottom of this post.

First, the Brand New Smashing Debut!

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Dear Mrs. Byrd: A Novel

World War II is a very frequent topic in my reading life. So, when I found a new novel that uses letters for some of the telling and it was set during the Blitz in London–well, I had to get it. Dear Mrs. Byrd: A Novel by AJ Pearce was was so fun and so spot-on I found it hard to believe this was a debute novel, but it is!

The Story

Emmeline Lake answers an add for a “Junior” at what she thinks will be a big London daily newspaper. Instead it is for a woman’s magazine doing the typing for the advice column, Dear Mrs. Byrd. While also doing her “bit” for the war effort manning the phones for the fire brgade, Emmy spends her days reading the letters of depressed, scared, lonely and perplexed women and girls of war-torn Britain. Along the way she and her best friend Bunty have a spot of bother. All of it adds up to a sort of “workplace coming of age” story. Or is it a “wartime coming of age” story? Whatever–it’s simply wonderful.

If you enjoy this one, check out a classic: Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark. My review is HERE.

Now the Others

Each of these are epistolary novels or nonfiction I’ve read recently–or at least read since my last post on this sort of book.

Diary of a Provincial Woman

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This class commedic dairy tells the story of the wife of an Estate Manager (think Downton Abbey, but more down on it’s luck). I loved it start to finish. You can read my review HERE.     Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield.

Sarah: Letters and Diaries of A Courtier’s Wife 1906-1936 (non-fiction)

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Sarah: Letters and Diaries of A Courtier’s Wife 1906-1936 is a slim volume telling the story of the wife of one of the primary members of the Royal Household in the days of Edward VIII (the current Queen’s uncle), George VI (her father) and today’s Queen, Elizabeth II.  There’s an interesting tie to the 90’s sitcom The Nanny with Fran Drescher! My review is HERE.

Two Steps Forward: A Novel

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Rosie Project author Graeme Simesion’s newest novel is a light novel on walking a pligrimage route in France and Spain. It includes texts and emails. You can read my review HERE.

Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta

 

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When her son Brendan goes off to college Mrs Fletcher tries to find a life. It includes texting to tell the story. You can read my review HERE
Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta.

 

My Posts Collecting Epistolary Books and Novels

Epistolary Books Part I

Epistolary Part II

Favorite Epistolary Books and Novels

Fictional Diaries

 

You can join Top 5 Wednesday on Goodreads.com then post about the week’s topic on your blog or in a video on Youtube. It’s fun!

 

Copy Cat Covers: The After Party

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I love it when I spot trends in cover art. There are some recent ones I’ve truly disliked (i.e. branding all of an author’s books to look alike) and others I’ve enjoyed. Earlier this year I did Copy Cat Covers post starting wtih Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman. You can view those coveres HERE.

Today I’m starting with the After Party by Anton DiSlafani. You can read my review HERE. In the interest of fairness I will disclose that I have no clue which cover displayed here came first! I put started seeing the look-alikes due to the one I read–The After Party. The rest followed. Some are original covers, others are paperback or later editions.

 

I know that some are not green and one shows only the green of a dress or coat, but I felt they all belong together. The dress–that’s the image, then the color–green mostly. To me each presents a picture of elegance. Something, we’ve lost for the most part (imho). Who are these women? Seeing these covers, I want to know. I love the almost iconic, slightly “bad girl” pose of the woman on the cover of The After Party–that bit of tobacco she’s plucking (or is it just a pose?). She eledues elegance, but with a nice gust of sexual provactiveness.  I think she’s spotted the man she wants, don’t you?

The Summer Wives does not feature a dress, but an odd belted blouse with shorts. It’s the color and the style of the blouse that drew me in. She’s out in a boat, in summer–it must be New England, Maine likely, due to the long sleeves–or is that her coppery hair means she burns easily and must cover up a bit more? Intriguing. (For the record I did not finish the audio version of this novel).

Do you spot copy cat covers? Have you done a post or two like this? Leave me a comment–include your link, I’d love to see what you’ve spotted.

FYI: You can read my review of the Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan HERE.

 

Review: Autumn in Venice: Hemingway & His Last Muse. Literary Cross-Generational Romance

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Ernest Hemingway, the image of American machismo from the 1920s until his death in the early 1960s was not much for monogamy.  Even with his fourth wife, in the post-World War II era, he still had a roving eye and well-greased zipper.

In 1948, Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, visited Italy. In Venice they were visiting with the Ivancich family and Ernest’s roving eye landed on the family’s 18 year old daughter, Adriana. Yes, she was “legal,” as we’d say today. And, about to turn 50, Hemingway was ripe for a bright red sports car, a tummy tuck and a much younger Mrs.

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Ernest and Adriana

Autumn in Venice tells the story of this odd relationship. Was it physical? Probably to some extent. “Papa” and the young woman he called “Daughter” had a hold on each other to be sure, but while it was fun and slightly intoxicating to have the attention of a great man at only 18, the relationship was more one-sided. For Hemingway, Adriana became an obsession. She was a “muse” in the classical sense of that–she invigorated and mentally (and, true to any mid-life crisis, physically) stimulated him. He got his groove back we’d say today and began writing again.

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Ernest and wife Mary

But, wait! Wasn’t he married? YES. While Mary Hemingway, (nine years younger than her husband), like all of Hemingway’s wives, was devoted to him in ways most women wouldn’t be today,  she did her best to ignore it all for as long as possible. Until she couldn’t any longer. [Sidebar: I was amazed to read Hemingway writing to his wife what brand/color # of hair dye he wanted her to use next and that, in spite of his young friend, he was anticipating the effect this color would have when debuted by her wearing only her new mink coat!]

 

 

With Hemingway writing again he naturally chose to write about, wait for it, a 50-something “Colonel” and his young lover who was a dead ringer for, you guessed it! Adriana.  The book, Across the River and Into the Trees, owed it’s title to Stonewall Jackson, but the rest was pure romantic obsession on loving Papa’s part. This is when it all hit the fan. The press got involved–at least in Venice. Adriana, expected to make a great marriage by her aristocratic family, was now in danger of being labeled damaged goods. Hemingway pulled out all the stops to postpone the book’s publication in Italy and France to protect his “daughter,” Finally, Mary had enough of it all and put her dainty, wifely, foot down–amazingly, she’d even tolerated Adriana and her mother at the Hemingway’s Cuban home! She put up with it because Ernest was working steadily. But even near-saints snap on occasion. An ultimatium got her husband’s attention at last.

All good things must come to an end and eventually, Adriana married, but divorced, then married again and got it “right enough” to put Hemingway mostly away. As for Ernest, the obsession seemed to finally lessen a little. He wrote The Old Man of the Sea, (for which Adriana again designed the cover), won both Pulitzer and the Nobel Prizes, and wrote Islands in the Stream, which was published a few years after his death. Then he and Mary were in a plane crash and the world thought they were dead. Remarkably, he was in a second plane crash the next day!  We all know his tragic ending, but the good news is, that Mary stayed around and got to be the widowed Mrs. Hemingway and control a lot of things after his death. I supposed that’s “good news.” Poor Adriana took the same exit as Ernest though. Sad.

My Thoughts

I thought it sad that all that was really available for depression and axiety was horrific electric shock treatment. I wonder if any of this would have happened if Hemingway had had access to modern anti-depressants. But, would they have robbed him of his creativity? His drinking was so out-of-control at various points in his life that he was clearly “self-medicating.”

Mary seems to have been wise enough to understand things he could control and things he could not. He was blessed to have a wife like that. She knew his talent, knew that his stability depended upon his work going well. She was patient, but her feelings were trampled upon time and time again–as were those of each Mrs. Hemingway in turn. But, great men have always gotten away with that and not only back in the day when a women’s best career choice was to be the wife of a very successful and talented man.

As for Adriana, she was a spoiled girl whose mother couldn’t really control her. And, in 1948, aristocratic young women were still married off to older men–albeit not those with a wife in tow. It is doubtful though that her family would have approved the match had Hemingway dumped Mary.  But she married an older man the first time–and older man who took her to Africa even, so I wonder if she didn’t have regrets at that point. Sad.

My Rating

4 Stars

Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and his Last Muse by Adrea Di Robilant

Review: Manderley Forever: A Bio. of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatania de Rosnay

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I’ve never enjoyed being frightened–not in real life, not by movies and not even by books. Yet I’ve enjoyed each of Daphne du Maurier’s books. One, of her books, The King’s General, is such a favorite I’ve even dreamed of it!

More than her writing, though, Daphne herself has long interested me. Her husband, Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick “Boy” Browning [aka “Tommy”] was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth before she became queen and to her husband, Prince Philip, after her ascent. This life fascinates me no end. So, when I heard that another spell-biding author, Tatiana de Rosnay of Sarah’s Key fame had written a novel-biography–i.e. a biography written in the style of a novel, I knew I had to read it–or listen to it.

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Daphne with her father, actor Gerald Du Maurier and her youngest sister, Jean.

The book tells of Daphne’s privileged childhood as one of the three daughters of one of that era’s superstars of the London stage, Gerald Du Maurier and his wife, Muriel.  Their “Uncle Jim” was J.M. Barrie who wrote Peter Pan and their cousins, Berre’s wards, were the five Llewelyn-Davies brothers who inspired the Lost Boys. As their father’s success grew the family moved from a comfortable London life to a country house for weekends and summer and much more. The three Du Maurier sisters led a privileged life free of the routine of school. Their governess stayed a valued friend throughout their lives.

Daphne, always Gerald’s favorite, thought of herself as “Eric Avon”–a boy. (My strange mind envisioned her as Anthony Eden–Earl of Avon). Hardly the first girl to be a tomboy and give herself another name, but for Daphne this persona never truly left her. De Rosnay makes much of this–seemingly trying to put it into today’s dialogue of gender diversity or gender fluidity which was  very interesting. Daphne defied the conventions of her day. She lived in pants, eschewed makeup, sailed her own boats, maintained a life independent of her husband and his career,  but strangely, gave up driving a car.

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Daphne with her husband Lt. General Sir Frederick “Boy” Browning and their children, Tessa, Flavia and Kits

I loved that Daphne defended her need to write up to a point. As she came to see, her obsession with her writing, and her obsession with Menabilly–the house of A King’s General where she lives as a virtual recluse for 20 years, cost her the loving intimacy of her marriage. And, it may have caused her husband to break down–though fighting in two world wars likely were the major cause. I understood her need to cling to her career–her sanity-saving writing, but thought she was pretty damned selfish when poor old Tommy came home after six years of war! “Welcome home, darling, sorry old thing, but I’ve got to write so I’ve dumped your kit in what is now your own bedroom, k? Good. See you at tea, Mopey, kiss-kiss, so about the war, hope you’re good now.” That amount of self-focus was a bit much. Never mind that he’d all but stalked her to get a date–the man had helped invent airborne troops! Give him a cuddle or two, lady!

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Daphne with Tessa and Flavia

 

I liked that she grew to adore her daughters. Her disappointment at birthing two girls before finally having a son is the sort of thing that mothers are never supposed to feel let alone disclose. That the girls grow up to be a huge part of her life is redeeming.  Her son, Kits, (Christopher) would stay the light of her life, but she made room for the girls before it was too late. So, too, did I like her not minding her younger sister’s writing career. Though that Du Maurier (Angela) met none of the success of her big sister, she kept at it–possibly for the same sanity-saving therapeutic quality of writing that drove Daphne.

I found her obsessions and possible affairs with various women and a few men to be, well, interesting, but also a bit cliched. As a child she only briefly attended a real school so she had time to ramble and dream, but came into intimate contact with very few people. A governess and a much older cousin are part of her sexual awakening and maturation. Incest (the emotional–not the physical) would continue to be an interest throughout her writing life.

Does being bi-sexual automatically make someone gender-fluid? I doubt it. In her time and place traveling with another woman was much easier and so concealing an affair was much easier with a woman. Affairs were fairly normal in the titled class–though same sex ones were not always as openly conducted as heterosexual affairs. None of the people she was seriously attracted to really left her life, either a situation that truly interested me. She let her obsession evolve or dissolve depending on the person.

The style of the book did puzzle me sometimes. Like the huge biography of President Reagan–Dutch, it became difficult to decide what was a conversation recorded in a letter or a diary and what was a fictional addition or embellishment to the primary source material. How does she know Daphne drank this and thought that? It seems a slippery slope to head down into fictionalizing details. Never mind, the book has earned the a nomination for the Edgar award and has been heartily endorsed by Du Maurier’s daughter, Tessa, Viscountess Montgomery of Alamein (Yes, married to the son and heir of THAT Montgomery–Monty the British General who won the battle of El Alamein.) The book was very enjoyable–much more so than a dry biography of an author done the traditional way.

My Rating

4 Stars

 

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay