Favourite Supporting Characters II

The most memorable characters tend to be the protagonists. However, books are far more engrossing when their supporting characters are as realistic, complex and engaging. Per definition, secondary characters are not the focus of the main storyline, but they are still essential for our enjoyment of a story.

Since writing my first post about my favourite supporting characters, around four years ago, I’ve discovered a few more who are as remarkable. Daphne du Maurier created three of them, which is unsurprising considering her talent.

 

Richard Grenville – The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier

Although Richard Grenville isn’t the protagonist of The King’s General, he is a critical character in the story. Honor Harris, the protagonist, explains why she fell in love with him. Their interactions, particularly at the beginning of the book, are amusing, charming and captivating. His actions are both kind and shameful. He is sarcastic, wild and careless with his finances. Continue reading

Favourite Protagonists II

While some books shine thanks to their gripping plots, others enchant readers because of their convincing and memorable characters. They don’t need to have faultless personalities, but their traits and behaviours have to be plausible and feel genuine. A great, complex protagonist is always a plus in any novel. Since I wrote my first post about my favourite protagonists, almost four years ago, I’ve discovered other believable main characters that I soon won’t forget.

 

Mary Yellan – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier created magnificent characters. The protagonist of Jamaica Inn, Mary Yellan, is just one of many. She is spirited, determined and curious. Although she is undoubtfully brave, in certain occasions she (understandably) succumbs to fear. It’s striking how she frequently muses on her behaviour towards other characters, particularly her aunt. Despite being well-intentioned, Mary is sometimes too severe with her.

 

Circe – Circe by Madeline Miller

Bullied and tormented by her siblings, Circe felt like an outcast since a young age. Madeline Miller clearly shows how the life experiences of the protagonist of this Ancient Greek myth retelling shaped her personality. After using her witchcraft powers, Circe is banished to a deserted island, becoming much more independent and less fearful. Her emotions are believable and palpable throughout. Continue reading

Favourite Characters by Daphne du Maurier

Many of Daphne du Maurier’s books stand out thanks to a magnificent creation of atmospheres. The characters that she crafted are not less remarkable, however. Some of my favourites are not necessarily the most perfect human beings or ones that I identify with, but they feel real and live off the page. They are characters that are not easy to forget.

 

Mrs de Winter

The first name of the narrator and main character of Rebecca remains a mystery for the entirety of this outstanding novel. At the beginning, she is an exceedingly insecure and timid young woman, who lives in the shadow of Mr de Winter’s deceased first wife, Rebecca. She becomes much more confident by the end, though. Despite her diffident personality, Daphne du Maurier managed to make her relatable.

 

Mary Yellan

Jamaica Inn also has a great main character. Curious, feisty and determined, Mary Yellan reveals great complexity. Although she is brave, she occasionally succumbs to fear. She has good intentions, but doesn’t always address her aunt with kindness, something that she is aware of, as she reconsiders her behaviour. I loved her interactions with Jem Merlyn. Continue reading

Books I Almost Loved

Very rarely do I rate books with five stars. For that to happen, a book has to be perfect in every regard in my opinion. I can’t even have a minor complaint. As I decided early on not to use half stars on my ratings, I always award four stars to books that weren’t flawless but that I almost loved. Only by reading the review can my high esteem for such books be fully perceived. The following eight books fall under that category.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

This retelling of an Ancient Greek myth resembles a fictional memoir. Circe, the daughter of Helios (the god of sun) and Perse (a nymph), was sentenced to exile as a punishment for using witchcraft against her own kind. Throughout the book, Madeline Miller delves into the meaning of love and the fear of losing a dear one. The prose is gripping and the characters feel truly real, thanks to a tangible portrayal of emotions, particularly those of Circe. However, the book loses a bit of its enchantment when Circe tells stories about Odysseus.

 

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

The first book in The Farseer Trilogy is not only a story of court intrigue and lust for power, but also a true interpretation of human emotions. When he was 6 years old, Fitz was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in, because he was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. Some years later, he started being trained as an assassin in secret. The detailed and absorbing writing style is one of the highlights of this fantasy book. Unfortunately, the last chapter is not as thorough and some events are just briefly mentioned. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2019

2019 was a complicated reading year. I read various praiseworthy novels, short story and poetry collections. In terms of genres, my reading was as varied, featuring classics, literary fiction, fantasy and myth retellings, for example. So far, I’ve read 34 books and will probably finish another one in the following days. However, I decided not to finish eight books, a number higher than ever before, if I’m not mistaken.

This was also the year when I chose to reread a book again after probably decades without doing so. Thus, I had to decide whether to include rereads in my favourite books of the year or not from now on. I decided against it. This post only includes books that I read for the first time during the year, irrespective of date of publication.

I don’t tend to rate books with five stars very often, because they need to be completely flawless for that to happen. This year I only rated one book with five stars, and it was the one that I reread – O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago. The majority of the books that I rate with four stars are still great, though. Some of the five books that I selected as my favourites of 2019 are indeed almost perfect, in my opinion. In reverse order, they are: Continue reading

Daphne du Maurier: A Queen of Atmospheric Novels

Daphne du Maurier may have been born in London in 1907, but it’s Cornwall, where she lived for most of her life and died in 1989, the main setting of several of her books. Boasting a craggy coast, inspiring coves, sandy beaches and clifftops filled with flowers, the region fits perfectly with her atmospheric stories. It’s not difficult to fall in love with her writing style. Vivid characters, a gripping prose and a sprinkle of mystery turn her novels into enthralling reads, even if they are not always perfect. She published her first novel, The Loving Spirit, in 1931. This is not the book she is best known for, though.

Rebecca is probably her most famous novel and, without a doubt, my favourite so far. After marrying Maxim de Winter, the unnamed narrator moved with him to his family home, the iconic Manderley. Being an insecure young woman, she already felt inferior to his deceased first wife, Rebecca. Living in Manderley only amplified her doubts and apprehensions. While she didn’t know how to deal with the staff nor was she familiar with her husband’s routines, Rebecca seemed to have been perfect. And Mrs Danvers, the housekeeper, was always there to remind her of that.

Accusations of plagiarism were raised regarding the book. Carolina Nabuco, a Brazilian author, believed that Daphne du Maurier had plagiarised her novel A Sucessora, although it had only been published in Portuguese at the time. She considered that the initial storyline of both novels was very similar, but she never sued Du Maurier, who claimed that she had never heard of Nabuco’s book before. The American Edwina Levin MacDonald went as far as filing suit in 1941. The complaint was dismissed, however. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – January 2019

After loving sharing with you my selection of favourite books, TV series, films, music, joyful activities and items from each month in 2018, I decided to continue to do the same this year. January wasn’t particularly memorable. However, I still have a couple of favourites that deserve to be highlighted.

I read three books last month. My favourite was Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan went to live with her aunt and uncle at Jamaica Inn. She soon realised that her uncle was involved in a smuggling business. Was that the only illegal activity that he was guilty of? A dangerous atmosphere is present throughout the novel. The characters’ dialogues feel truly real, and I particularly loved the interactions between Mary and Jem Merlyn.

Although I didn’t watch many TV shows in January, the ones that I did were fantastic. I continued my annual re-watch of Game of Thrones and have now finished season 3. I adored it as much as when I watched it for the first time. Obviously, I wasn’t as shocked by episode 9 as before, but it still breaks my heart. I also watched the first episode of Sex Education the day before yesterday and quite liked it. It’s so hilarious that I cannot wait to watch the rest of the series. Continue reading

‘Jamaica Inn’ by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 stars

Curiosity can in certain circumstances be a dangerous trait, as Mary Yellan, the main character in Jamaica Inn, soon realised after moving in with her aunt and uncle. Daphne du Maurier penned an atmospheric and mysterious novel set in Cornwall that lays bare the criminal activities that took place in the area. The various absorbing interactions between the characters give the book a life of its own, which is only curbed by a not altogether perfect pacing.

After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan began her journey from Helford, where she had always lived, to near Launceston. She had promised her not to live alone and instead stay with her aunt Patience, who was married with the new landlord of Jamaica Inn, Joss Merlyn. On her way there, she was made aware that the inn had a bad reputation. Respectable people didn’t stop there anymore, but the coach driver didn’t explain the reason why.

The moment 23-year-old Mary arrived at Jamaica Inn, she realised that her uncle was a brute. Her aunt noticeably feared him and looked much older than she truly was in consequence. She wasn’t the bewitching woman Mary remembered anymore. After considering leaving in the middle of night, she decided to stay in order to help her aunt. Early on she had already shown courage by saying to her uncle that, if he ever hurt her aunt, she would go to the magistrate. Continue reading

Favourite Book Covers IV

As you can infer from the Roman numeral on the title, I love beautiful covers and like to share them with you. When it comes to books, there is just one thing more thrilling than a bookcase filled with them – a bookcase full of books with beautiful covers!

The fourth instalment of my favourite book covers features one book that I’m currently reading, two I’ve already read and one that I probably won’t start delving into for a few months. The title of the two books that are now safe on my read shelves link to the respective reviews, in case you want to know more about them. You can also see my other favourite book covers here.

 

Uma Vida à Sua Frente by Romain Gary

Cover design: Henrique Cayatte Atelier

Publisher: Sextante Editora Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2018

I bought a total of ten books in March. As I didn’t buy them all at once, it was only when I decided to write this post that I realised how many they were. I can’t truly remember the last time I bought so many books in just a month. The majority of them I’m going to read for my ‘EU still 28’ project, while others were at a discount and I don’t seem to be able to resist a bargain.

To know a little bit more about each of my choices, carry on reading!

 

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

I love the covers of the books by Daphne du Maurier from the Virago Modern Classics collection. Since I’m slightly afraid that they may vanish from the market before I have them all, once in a while, I buy one of them even if I don’t plan to read it soon. Jamaica Inn was recommended to me numerous times. It focuses on Mary Yellan, who, after the death of her mother, goes to her aunt Patience’s home. Continue reading