Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Daphne du Maurier and Branwell Bronte

Ths morning we visited our local shop and PO, which is now run by volunteers. It is a mere 6 mile round trip away which is "close" in rural terms, and also has an excellent book recycling system. Several shelves of donated books are there for you to browse, and it is 25p to take a book and swop it for one of your choice, or 50p if you are empty-handed. This morning I pounced on a book titled "Daphne" sure that it must be about Daphne du Maurier, an author whose life intrigues me and whose novels were milestones along my literary quest. I was right, and better still, it involved du Maurier and her research into a book on Branwell Bronte and his personal genius. This is all wrapped up into a modern-day story, based on the true story of du Maurier's work and correspondence with a literary academic who was also fascinated by Branwell. Justine Picardie is the author and one I've not read before.

Perfect timing, given that I finished Philippa Gregory's "The Virgin's Lover" last night, glad to get to the end as I knew the real-life ending (Amy Robsart's death of a broken neck and weakened physical state from probable breast cancer) and the shadow this placed on Robert Dudley, Amy's ambitious husband. It kept him from sharing the throne with Elizabethg I. An interesting take on it, and very well-researched.

Anyway, I am now at Menabilly in my head and on familiar ground with du Maurier's psyche and her increasingly distant relationship with her husband "Boy" Browning, who had by then found himself a mistress - although the deception of his wife and family was destroying him mentally and causing a breakdown.

The Bronte details are familiar territory too, especially as I was re-reading Juliet Barker's "The Brontes: A Life in Letters" last Autumn. The Bronte family have been a passion of mine since my late teens, when I moved on from my early interest in Jane Austen. I have quite a few literary biographies about them (and many other authors) and love to discover more.

So this book had my name all over it. As I am also hock-deep in Edward Thomas books too, the sofa is getting quite crowded at the moment. Me, books, cats and sewing (for later tonight I hope). I feel a little better, but although the a/b's have kicked in, making me feel slightly better, I woke up with a desperately nasty headache first thing, and I get out of puff very easily.

Weather-wise, there is snow on the hilltops around us, but we are above the frost line and below the snow line here, but I will say it is bitterly cold outside, with a piercing East wind - the lazy sort which goes through you instead of around you. It's fair to say that we have known the house to feel warmer - average temp. in the kitchen (indeed all the house bar the sitting room) these days is about 9 degrees in the daytime. Set to get worse on Friday apparently, when strongly minus temperatures arrive from the Russian steppes, so it will be a bit like living in the Gulags then . . . Well, we survived last year without heating, though we did at least have enough to put the Hergom on in the kitchen (not that it made a great deal of difference). Perhaps we should buy a scratch card . . .


  1. I have likewise been fascinated with the complex character of Daphne Du Maurier. My favorite of her fiction is "The King's General." Trying to think of the title of a small book--almost a journal--she wrote about staying by herself in Cornwall early in her writing career.
    Re heat: we never could keep the house as warm as we would have liked when using propane--maintaining something moderate was pricey enough and we wore sweaters, heavy vests [waistcoats?] in the house during the long winters of Vermont and Wyoming.
    I am blessing the wood heat here--as well as the mild winter.
    Misery enough to be either ill or cold--without enduring both. I'm wishing you recovery and warmer weather.

  2. I read a review of Justine Picardy`s book BB and thought it sounded "Just up my street". I hope you enjoy it. One of these days I intend so reread Du Maurier too. I loved her novels when I was a teenager.

    Good to hear that you are feeling better. Stay as warm as you can.xx

  3. I hope you are on the mend and that it warms up a bi for you over there. Here in Maryland we've sadly had no real snow at all.--hart

  4. DW - I shall send it on to you as soon as I've finished it. It has our names all over it!!

    MM - I have just dug out my long johns and put them on whilst I'm still glowing from my bath. I think I'll need them with the minus temperatures predicted for the next few days - and ongoing if the cold weather front triumphs against the warmer wetter front coming in. Hopefully if we do end up down South again, we won't be so cold. In Hampshire and Dorset (our "deep South") the climate is warmer and drier.

    du Maurier was a very complex character and each time I read a fresh book about her I find out something more. I imagine she was a rather prickly character, not relaxing to be round. Sharp.

    hart - Hi. Lovely to have a comment from a new visitor. Is snow something you get much of in Maryland?

  5. I hope you stay warm and snuggly on the sofa surrounded with these great books. I like your choices of authors and subjects.