A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, May 5, 2017

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier- by Tantiana De Rosnay -Feature and Review


The nonfiction debut from beloved international sensation and #1 New York Times bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay: her bestselling biography of novelist Daphne du Maurier.

“It's impressive how Tatiana was able to recreate the personality of my mother, including her sense of humor. It is very well written and very moving. I’m sure my mother would have loved this book.” ― Tessa Montgomery d’Alamein, daughter of Daphné du Maurier, as told to Pauline Sommelet in Point de Vue

As a bilingual bestselling novelist with a mixed Franco-British bloodline and a host of eminent forebears, Tatiana de Rosnay is the perfect candidate to write a biography of Daphne du Maurier. As an eleven-year-old de Rosnay read and reread Rebecca, becoming a lifelong devotee of Du Maurier’s fiction. Now de Rosnay pays homage to the writer who influenced her so deeply, following Du Maurier from a shy seven-year-old, a rebellious sixteen-year-old, a twenty-something newlywed, and finally a cantankerous old lady. With a rhythm and intimacy to its prose characteristic of all de Rosnay’s works, Manderley Forever is a vividly compelling portrait and celebration of an intriguing, hugely popular and (at the time) critically underrated writer.



Manderley ForeverManderley Forever by Tatiana de Rosnay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier written by Tatiana de Rosnay and translated by Sam Taylor is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

This may be one of the most unique biographies I’ve ever read.

Tatiana de Rosnay wrote this biography as though it were a novel, as though Daphne Du Maurier were telling us her life story, giving us access to her personal thoughts and feelings, which is really something, and she pulled it off quite nicely.

As a huge fan of the Gothic genre, you would think I had read more than just a few of Daphne’s novels. But, in all honestly, I have a few of her books in my collection, but I’ve only read two or three. I have never read anything about her life prior to reading this biography either, interestingly enough. But, ‘Rebecca’ is a one my favorite books of all time, and it’s one of the handful of novels I get a craving to re-read from time to time.

This book was first published in France in 2015, but has been translated, very professionally, into the English language by Sam Taylor.

I’m not sure why, perhaps it was the unusual layout and approach the author used, but I felt compelled to do a few Google searches about Du Maurier while reading this book, wondering about the facts conveyed here. There were a few times I felt the author took some liberties, perhaps thinking the ‘novel’ format would gloss over any discrepancies or disputes. There are no outright falsehoods, that I know of, but the nature of at least one relationship Daphne had has been called into question by her family, but was passed off as an equivocal fact in this book.

However, Daphne’s own daughter wrote a ‘blurb’ for the original publication, so I suppose the family was happy with it, and if they are fine with it, so am I, but I still reserve the right to remain skeptical, because it’s just in my nature to question the answers.

(The author does list sources, much of which came from Daphne’s memoirs, personal letters and information procured from the family. But, she also listed other sources and biographies I thought sounded very interesting and hope to add, along with more if Daphne’s novels, to my reading list.)

Otherwise, the author did a very good job of including all the information one would expect from a biography, but not only that, she brought Daphne Du Maurier to life. She became a living, breathing entity, with her own ‘voice’ ringing out loud and clear, which is pretty hard in most cases, because a biographer seldom manages to avoid invoking his or her own opinions, or personal presence somewhere along the way.

I did notice some repetitiveness from time to time and the author may have driven home Daphne’s dual ‘sides’ a bit too much. That point was brought up many times, but I'd gotten the message early on, so I thought it bordered on overkill a time or two.

I had to smile at times because Daphne reminded me of me when it came to enjoying her solitude, favoring it and savoring it to the extent others have a hard time understanding.

But, the thing that struck me most of all was her natural ability to write. Despite the criticism hurled at her, I have to say, I never viewed Du Maurier as a ‘romantic’ author. Certainly, her stories strongly represent that element, but, the few I’ve read were more literary, mysterious, and haunting and I’d struggle mightily to categorize her as a historical romance author. Critics tried to brush her off, piously dismissing her because of her commercial success.

However, Dame Daphne was without a doubt, much more than a storyteller. She was a unique talent, and a pure writer. She took the criticism and delighted at her success. She had many peaks and valleys in her career, but soldiered on no matter which way it went.

Overall, if you are a fan of Daphne Du Maurier you should give this book a try. I wouldn’t depend upon it solely, necessarily, but I think this book will give you a much more personal and vivid accounting of her life, and will complement any traditional biography of her life.

The book also lists Daphne’s bibliography at the back of the book, as well as a family tree, photographs, maps, notes, sources, and a detailed index.





Hello ! My new book," Manderley Forever," a biography of my favorite author, Daphne du Maurier, will be published in the USA by St. Martin’s Press on April 18th 2017

I am a Franco-British author, of English, French and Russian descent. 


I can also be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tatianaderosnay, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tatianaderosnay, and now on Instagram at https://instagram.com/tatianaderosnay/. 
Please visit my website for more information: http://www.tatianaderosnay.com/

Sam Taylor was born in 1970 and is the former pop culture correspondent for the Observer. He lives in France with his young family

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