“I saw myself, for the first time, as a very worthless, very trivial human being, traveling here and there about the world to no purpose, doing unnecessary business with other human beings as worthless as myself, and to no other end but that we should be fed and clothed and housed in adequate comfort until death.”
― Daphne du Maurier
Why I’m Reading this Book?
I found this book in one of the lists as short classic. I also wanted to read Rebecca from the same writer and before doing that thought to indulge myself in her short story collection.
This collection has 5 more short stories along with celebrated story ‘The Birds’. ‘Monte Verita’, ‘The Apple Tree’, ‘The Little Photographer’, ‘Kiss me again, Stranger’ and ‘The Old Man’. All stories are on the verge of supernatural. But writer cleverly leaves it on the reader to deduce if story is set in human or other realm.
All stories are very good. I found myself a little bored in ‘The Little Photographer’, but in the end it picked up and it was actually good.
The Birds : This needs no introduction. Legendary director Hitchcock made a hit movie based on this. Story is about when nature starts taking revenge. All the birds in the world have turned savage and are attacking humans. There is no reason given why. Story is about a family in this situation. Individual story rating : 4
Monte Verita : A mysterious mountain and its pull on some women. Two friends who love the same woman and their life long quest to get her back. Individual Story rating : 3
The Apple Tree: A widower finally taking a sigh of breath after his wife’s death. In little flashbacks it was shown how irritated he was with her. Not because of some major issue, but just because of her nature. When finally he is free from her, he starts noticing an apple tree in his backyard which somehow starts resembling his wife’s form. What follows is brilliant story of intricate and complex relationship of couple. Individual Story rating :4
The Little Photographer : A very rich marquess bored in the mundane details of her life yearns for an affair. Nothing scandalous, but just a distraction. And she gets her wish during one vacation. But this affair is not as simple and easy to shrug off which she learns in hard way. Although story was a little boring initially, it picked up the pace in the end and I ended up really liking it. Individual Story rating :4
Kiss me again, Stranger : A mysterious woman, taciturn guy head over heels in love with her at first sight, a walk to cemetery and next day a shocking revelation. Story has supernatural hint, but its up to the reader if he/she wants to believe in ghosts. Individual Story rating :3
The Old Man : This was the most bizarre story of the collection. Narrator observes an old man’s family. They are an eccentric bunch and don’t mingle/talk with anyone. This piqued narrator’s interest more. For years, he observes the whole family , father, mother, 3 children from a distance and then one day he notices all children are gone. Has the old man killed them? What happened? Like narrator, even readers are at loss. I didn’t like the ending much. Individual Story rating: 2
My Rating — 4
On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)
Why anyone else should read this Book?
As mentioned, this is a very small book. I finished it in two days.
This is a very good collection of stories from writer. If you want to test her prowess before submerging into more detailed work, this would be a good start.
If you like suspense, thriller, macabre, the unknown, you can’t go wrong with this book
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles W. Eliot