Why did it take me so long to discover this book!?
I have to admit, the first chapter was one of the most tedious chapters I’ve read during this 100 book challenge. I was ready to give it the flick. Then a word here and there piqued my interest… there was a deep mystery, albeit so slightly mentioned, and from that page on I was hooked.
The writing is subtle, hidden and very, very clever. We never find out the main character’s name (even though she refers to its spelling at one stage), but her husband’s ex-wife’s name is mentioned often and clearly unmissable on the front of the book. That’s just one way du Maurier shows the difference between how the two women are treated by almost every other character in the story.
So why was that first chapter so difficult for me? It was as if it took me a dozen or so pages to get into du Maurier’s voice. I needed to trust and respect her before I agreed to let her sweep me away. But once that trust had been built, I gladly followed her wherever she took me.
Mandalay, the house in Cornwall, England where most of the book is set, has been painted so strongly in mind. I feel like I have spent a significant part of my life there, with the incessant rumbling of the ocean, the servants watching me through partially closed doorways, and the sickening perfume of the Rhododendrons.
This book will stay with me for a long time, perhaps forever.
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.Follow @jessieansons