REVIEW: Manderley Forever by Tatiana de Rosnay
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 a thirteen-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 woman. 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.
Dear Ms. de Rosnay,
I admit it was more curiosity than love of du Maurier’s work that brought me to this biography. Jennie’s recent review of “Rebecca,” a book I’ve never read, got me interested in learning more about the author. I think this book will reward the aficionados of her works, those who want to intimately know her life and what influenced her famous books. Those who just want to know a little more about her will probably find it more than they were expecting.
There is a very immediate “you are there” feel to the style of writing. It does a marvelous job of showing and speculating on events, places and people in Du Maurier’s life that sparked creative ideas for her novels and characters. But, it goes into great detail, very great detail, which tends to make parts drag once the point has been made. I don’t need to get a recap of (seemingly) every day of her life, where she went, what she wore, how much more popular she is than her sisters, how wildly jealous she was of anyone who encroached on her beloved French teacher’s time, how snobbish she could be as she and said teacher lunched and laughed at other patrons.
It is quite honest about less than flattering aspects of her; she’s often pouty, sulking, demanding and imperious. Through the first third of the book, I felt that I was reading through treacle. But even I, who have only read two of her books (Frenchman’s Creek and The King’s General), could catch references and influences and sparks that appeared in her writing. This it covers magnificently.
But as I continued reading, I was less and less interested in this somewhat disagreeable woman. Sometimes it’s better not to know details about public figures as it definitely can take the bloom off the rose. In the end she really was the “cantankerous old woman” of the blurb. I would suggest the book for fans only.