Sunday Lowdown #50

This Week’s Blog Posts:

While it may have been an Oscar-worthy script, Lee Israel fails to do herself justice in her memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me? The book seemed to provide the bones for the film, but the screenwriter had to stitch together an interesting story. Click the title to read my review.

A delicious read that plays with your mind and loyalties, Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel is sure to please fans of mystery, domestic thrillers, historical fiction, and classics. Part of a book club? I can’t recommend this book enough; Emily @ The Literary Elephant and I sure had plenty to discuss! Differing opinions make the experience even better. Click the title to check out my review, and keep your eyes open for a book-to-film review in the near future.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

Two works of nonfiction are in the pipeline: Dani Shapiro’s book Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life is up on Tuesday. The book’s title gives you a clue that this is a work about the writing life in the vein of Stephen King and Anne Lamott, but it’s also a question every writer, even famous ones, get asked. “Still writing?”

I’m grateful that Laila @ Big Reading Life pointed me toward Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison, MPH, MD. Laila is on her own journey reading books about intuitive eating, and I love reading her updates about it on Goodreads. Part history, all argument, Harrison’s book will be reviewed on Thursday.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

The spouse and I are still working on Jamaica Inn, also by Daphne du Maurier. He says that he’s interested to learn more about the dynamic between Mary Yellen and Jem Merlyn. Yes, she’s the strong woman, but she’s branching out beyond simply protecting her Aunt Patience from Uncle Joss Merlyn. In fact, despite knowing that Jem is a horse thief, Mary’s going to town with him on Christmas Eve while he sells a stolen pony.

Although Uncle Joss is presented as the terrifying one, the spouse points out that Joss admits he respects Mary for her intelligence and admits his own weaknesses.

We’ve finally reached the part where we know Joss is a bad guy to being a Bad Guy. I called this “brutal”; the spouse called it “vicious.” Emily @ The Literary Elephant noted just how different Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel are — that they’re both wonderful but don’t sound like the same author. Upon re-reading Jamaica Inn, I’m noticing just how different all three novels are.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

I basically added du Maurier’s entire oeuvre to my TBR in the hopes that there are gems yet undiscovered. I haven’t even read her short fiction yet, which would include “The Birds,” another du Maurier work that Hitchcock made into a film. Here’s a list of her works I have not read:

Novels

  • The Loving Spirit 
  • I’ll Never Be Young Again 
  • Julius 
  • Frenchman’s Creek 
  • Hungry Hill 
  • The King’s General 
  • The Parasites 
  • Mary Anne 
  • The Scapegoat 
  • Castle Dor (with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch)
  • The Glass-Blowers 
  • The Flight of the Falcon 
  • The House on the Strand 
  • Rule Britannia 

Short Fiction

  • Happy Christmas
  • Come Wind, Come Weather
  • Early Stories (short story collection, stories written between 1927–1930)
  • The Breaking Point
  • The Birds and Other Stories
  • Don’t Look Now
  • The Rendezvous and Other Stories
  • Classics of the Macabre
  • The Doll: The Lost Short Stories

Non-fiction

  • Gerald: A Portrait 
  • The du Mauriers 
  • The Young George du Maurier: a selection of his letters 1860–67 
  • The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë 
  • Vanishing Cornwall (includes photographs by her son Christian)
  • Golden Lads: Sir Francis Bacon, Anthony Bacon and their Friends 
  • The Winding Stair: Francis Bacon, His Rise and Fall 
  • Myself When Young
  • The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories
  • Enchanted Cornwall

I’m not sure if I’ll read all of the nonfiction, especially the books about Bacon, but there’s certainly a lot to choose from!

12 comments

  1. You’re clearly on a (D) du Maurier binge.. but we, your readers are clearly enjoying it, the comments after My Cousin Rachel go on forever. Took a while to get to the bottom and add my own. Just yesterday I asked an author friend if she was still writing. Her answer was somewhere between no and maybe. I think she is more than a bit daunted by the thought of more years of research for a few enthusiastic readers and not many dollars.

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    • Dani Shapiro is a famous writer who makes a living writing, and yet when she goes to a gathering, someone will, without fail, ask if she’s still writing, as if it’s a side project for fun. An interesting contrast: I’m watching Anne with an E on Netflix, which is based on the Anne of Green Gables books, and I’m surprised by the way characters simply decide to be an artist or a writer, as if that’s something one could do. Then I remember, oh, yes, that was something one could do if he/she had a knack for it. Even today, Canada gives grants to artists to enrich the culture of Canada. In the United States, Dani Shapiro’s experience is more the norm, but add on someone asking where they could get a super discounted copy of her book, too.

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  2. My friend Heaven-Ali runs a DDM reading week every year in May so you might want to go and look at some of her posts or join in this year (I have Rebecca and Jamaica Inn to read then).

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  3. SO MUCH DU MAURIER! I’m really looking forward to checking out more of her work, as you know. I’m especially interested in her novels of course, but am intrigued to see how her writing translates to nonfiction as well. And “The Birds,” which I’ve heard a lot about but never read or seen! I need to have a bit of a Hitchcock marathon at some point I think, I’ve been missing out on some of his well-known films.

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    • I wasn’t aware until a couple of years ago just how long Hitchcock was a director. His first movies are silent films, and he ends somewhere in the 70s, I believe. Some of my favorites of his are Rebecca (1940), The Birds (1963), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Frenzy (1972).

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      • I’ll make a little list and see if I can track those down! 🙂 I didn’t realize he was working quite that long either, I definitely think of him as a black-and-white film guy, between the silent film era and color tv. I need to adjust that mental image!

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  4. Ok sort of embarrassed to admit I didn’t know The Birds was by DuMaurier! In other news, The Haunting of Hill House is officially in my possession, but I’m going to wait until my husband is back from his trip to start reading it, because I’ll scare myself silly otherwise 🙂

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