After reading Manderley Forever, I put a photo of Daphne du Maurier on my desk. I think Daphne and I would’ve been good friends. At least, I’d like to think so. Or maybe I would have just trailed behind her like a puppy, begging for a modicum of her affection. Tatiana de Rosnay’s biography shows her admiration and her respect for Daphne, too. I think if I had been able to meet Daphne while she was alive, I would have been enamored but also somewhat intimidated.
The biography de Rosnay has created is enthralling. Daphne du Maurier was a complex, non-conformist, reclusive writer who eschewed contact with fans and the media. I enjoyed reading about her life with the backdrop of the development of her novels, how her love for Cornwall, or her travels abroad, affected her writing or inspired various storylines. I played a game while reading trying to guess which novel was coming next. I learned a lot about Daphne – what inspired her, what motivated her, who captured her heart.
De Rosnay handles Daphne’s various loves, those fulfilled and those unrequited, with grace and compassion. Manderley Forever gives insight into the life of this beloved novelist who was often written off by critics as only a best-selling romance writer. She was enigmatic, and her novels were darker and more complicated than she was often given credit for. Her alter ego, Eric Avon, was Daphne as her most genuine, and de Rosnay explores that side of Daphne with wonder.
I appreciated the multi-faceted character de Rosnay gives her readers. She shows Daphne’s darker side, her temperamental personality, but also her loyalty and devotion to family and life-long friends. Her peccadilloes are all there in the open, which only serves the book’s legitimacy. Daphne had an obsessive personality, often inexplicably drawn to places or people that she would cling to tenaciously, but she also suffered from social anxiety, hiding from fans who came to Menabilly seeking autographs. Her life story was well-researched, but more importantly, it was written with care and love, which shows on every page. Manderley Forever has inspired me to read all the du Maurier novels I haven’t yet read, now that I know the story and inspiration behind the tales.
Highly recommended for du Maurier fans, and for those just beginning to discover her.
My gratitude to Netgalley, Tatiana de Rosnay, and St. Martin’s Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.