Love a Book, Judge the Next

Loving the first book that we read by an author is a fabulous experience, regardless if they are at the beginning of their writing career or if they already have various books published. The downside is that it can make us be much harsher when reading a second book by them. I think this happened to me a few times. I loved the first books that I read by certain authors so much that I ended up being much severe when judging my following reads by them.

 

Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

The first book that I read by Daphne du Maurier was the magnificent Rebecca, an enthralling, enigmatic and atmospheric novel, which is full of fleshed out characters. After marrying Maxim de Winter, the unnamed narrator moved with him to his family home, Manderley. She already felt inferior to his first wife, Rebecca, before, but living there only increased her insecurities and her sense of inaptitude.

After loving Rebecca, I was eager to continue exploring Du Maurier’s work. I soon picked up My Cousin Rachel. Philip, the narrator of the story, was raised by his older cousin Ambrose, who married Rachel while in Italy. Not long after his marriage, he died. Although Philip harboured suspicions about the role of his cousin Rachel in Ambrose’s death, he ended up falling in love with her. There’s a mysterious ambience throughout, as readers are skilfully led to have conflicting feelings about the characters. I was not fully convinced by how Philip fell so head over heels with Rachel, though. Despite being certain that I didn’t like it nowhere near as much as Rebecca, I feel like I was a bit too harsh on my review. 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

My 5 Star TBR Predictions Wrap Up

More or less four months ago, inspired by Mercedes at Mercys Bookish Musings on YouTube, I selected four books from my TBR pile which I then hoped would be five-star reads. I have now read all of them and regret to inform you that not even one has deserved a 5-star rating from me. I still liked them all, they were all 4-star reads, but none of them ended up meeting my high expectations for various reasons.

I can only wonder if I would have appreciated them more for what they are and wouldn’t have paid so much attention to what I perceived as faults, if my expectations had not been so high. It’s true that I don’t rate that many books with 5 stars, as I expect to completely love everything about them to do so, but sometimes expectations influence our way of thinking.

Although I rated all of the following books with 4 stars, I can easily rank them, because I liked some more than others. These are the four books that I expected to love from my most to my least favourite: Continue reading

Favourite Book Covers III

I’m a beautiful book covers lover. I admit to sometimes even buying a book just because the cover appealed to me, although that may turn out to be a terrible idea if the words inside don’t serve as instruments to achieve a compelling story featuring interesting characters. I particularly love paperback editions, and when stunning book covers are complemented by French flaps.

This is not the first time I reveal some of my favourite book covers. You can see the first two instalments here and here. I have now other five covers to add to the previous lists. Two of the following books I’ve already read and reviewed, the others I’ll probably only read next year.

 

The Good People by Hannah Kent

Cover design: Rachel Vale, Pan Macmillan Art Department

Publisher: Picador Continue reading

‘My Cousin Rachel’ by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 stars

Daphne du Maurier cleverly plays with our perceptions of some of the characters featured in My Cousin Rachel by making us constantly doubt their intentions. This is the story of two men, Philip and Ambrose, plagued by suspicion. They both fell in love with Rachel even though beforehand they refused the company of women, whom they characterised negatively.

Philip’s parents died when he was only eighteen months old. He was hence taken care of by his older cousin Ambrose, who always loved him and chose him as his heir. When Philip finished his studies at Oxford, Ambrose started to spend the winters in the south of Europe for health reasons. One year he decided to go to Florence where he fell in love and married cousin Rachel.

After receiving the news, Philip started to harbour feelings of jealousy and became concerned about having to leave the house he always lived in, because he was remembered of the possibility of Ambrose having his own son. More than a year passed and Ambrose didn’t return home. Philip started to become worried about his cousin’s long absence. His apprehensions only increased when Ambrose sent him suspicious letters. He then decided to go to Italy looking for him, but when he arrived in Florence he was already dead and cousin Rachel had left the city. Continue reading

My 5 Star TBR Predictions

I always expect to at least enjoy the books that I have on my to-be-read pile. But for some of the books which are awaiting to finally be read I have even higher expectations and assume that I will love them and, thus, award them a five-star rating. Inspired by Mercedes at Mercys Bookish Musings on YouTube, I decided to share the unread books I have on my shelves that I believe I will love.

I don’t rate many books with 5 stars, as I can’t fault them on anything in order to do so (you can read my post on why I rate books with 5 stars here). But when I do I rarely change my mind afterwards.

Whenever I’m debating whether to buy a certain book or not, a possible rating doesn’t usually spring to mind, that is something I only consider while or after reading it. So, I see this exercise as a new and exciting challenge. I’ve chosen four books among my unread ones that I plan to read before the end of the year. When I finally read all of them, I will write a wrap up post discussing my actual ratings. Continue reading

Book Haul – July 2017

I had promised myself not to buy any more books until I found a place to properly store my unread ones (right now they are perilously piled up on top of each other and the risk of them falling down is too real to be overlooked). However, it was my birthday this month and I needed to give myself a present. I could have bought only one book, but that wouldn’t be a proper gift. Five seemed like a good number!

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

After loving Rebecca, I became eager to read all the books by Daphne du Maurier. To read one every year seemed like a good goal. But when I realised that an adaptation of My Cousin Rachel had just been released, I decided to buy the book and read it this year before seeing the film.

From the blurb, this seems like quite a mysterious story, which involves a widow and her dead husband’s cousin. Continue reading