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

Favourite Opening Lines

By the time that we finish reading most books, the opening lines have already vanished from our memory. A selected few, however, linger on, long after we close the books and start new ones. They remain forever imprinted in our mind. My favourites are long and short, summarise the premise of the book or just leave readers wondering. There’s not a specific characteristic that distinguishes all of them.

 

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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

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

Favourite Books by My Most-Owned Authors

In past years, I wrote a blog post listing all the books that I had on my shelves by my most-owned and read authors. The plan was to publish such a post every year, in order to evaluate if there were any changes. As the differences weren’t that significant from one year to the next, I discarded the idea of doing it annually.

My shelves look slightly different now, since I’ve unhauled not only many books from my childhood, but also more recent ones that I didn’t enjoy that much. However, instead of just listing the titles of the books that I read by my most-owned authors, this time I decided to reveal my favourite book by each of the most prevalent writers on my shelves. The list below features seven authors. Four of them I read and own six books by, the others more than that.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

I read and own eight books by J.K. Rowling. A number that increases to nine when adding the work that she wrote under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. My favourite is still Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In the third book in the series, Harry, Hermione and Ron investigate Sirius Black, whom they believe is an ally of Voldemort. It also explores Harry’s family history. Continue reading

Favourite Books of the Last Five Years

Before I created this blog, almost three years ago, I started rating the books that I read on a spreadsheet in 2014. I’m not sure why I decided to do it, but it was also around that time that I started watching videos about books on YouTube. Today I want to share with you my favourite books since then, which means of the last five years.

I haven’t selected a book per year. The books below are, instead, my favourites from the whole period in no particular order.

 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

King Robert Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne and invites Lord Eddard Stark to be his Hand. But the fragile peace is in peril. Not only are the Lords of Westeros playing dangerous power games, but the exiled Targaryens also want to retake their father’s throne. The first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series is written from various points of view and is full of political machinations. The plot is enthralling and the characters are complex and multifaceted. Continue reading

Writing the Seasons with Books: Spring

I don’t consider myself a seasonal reader, meaning that I don’t tend to read books in a way that agrees with the season we are in. I usually read more fantasy and adventure books than normal during summer. And Halloween is generally my favourite time of the year to read unsettling novels. However, I’m also known to read books set during the winter in the summer and gothic, creepy novels while the flowers are blooming with the arrival of spring. Thus, I won’t be recommending you books to read during this spring. Any book is a good one!

Instead, I’ve decided to take a look at my shelves and select six books with titles beginning with the letters of the word ‘spring’. This wasn’t as easy to achieve as I first thought. And I had to cheat slightly! But below are the books with which I’m writing ‘spring’.

 

Sonetos by Florbela Espanca    

Florbela Espanca was a Portuguese poet who lived during the early 20th century. Her sonnets generally delve into the topics of love and passion. But they also convey pessimism and suffering, complemented with a pinch of sensuality. Continue reading

Reactions to 1-Star Reviews of Books I Love

A few months ago, I watched a video on the YouTube channel Mercys Bookish Musings in which Mercedes read 1-star reviews of books that she loves. I found the idea so interesting that I decided to also have a look for negative reviews of some of my favourite books on Goodreads and write my reactions to a number of them.

I chose five books from different genres and selected a review for each one of them that pinpoints the reasons why the person basically hated it. I’ll now quickly explain why I respectfully disagree with such opinions. It’s normal to have dissimilar views on books, so it’s not my purpose to be offensive towards other readers.

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca was the first book that I read by Daphne du Maurier and remains my favourite after having read other three (Jamaica Inn, The King’s General and My Cousin Rachel). I was aware that not everyone is a fan of this novel, but I didn’t think I was going to find so strong negative views, such as the one below. Continue reading

My Least and Most Viewed Reviews

Book reviews are the type of posts I most like to write for this blog, and they are also the ones that take me the longest to complete and edit. Nevertheless, they tend to have less views than the rest of the content on my blog. At least this is the perception I have. I don’t analyse my blog statistics thoroughly and frequently, thus there is a slight possibility that I’m wrong.

But this is something that has been intriguing me lately. So, I took a quick look at my blog stats to discover the reviews with the most and the least number of views. The titles of the books mentioned below link to the full reviews.

 

My Three Most Viewed Reviews

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The reason why I think this is my most viewed review is that it was published around the time when The Power was announced as the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017. Told from various points of view, it delves into what happened when women discovered they had the power to electrocute other people with their hands. I quite liked the premise but didn’t enjoy the execution as much. Continue reading

Favourite Books Written by Women

Ahead of International Women’s Day, on 8th March, I put together a list of my favourite books written by women. Although I believe that unintentionally I still read more books by men than by women, it wasn’t difficult at all to come up with these five magnificent books by female authors. In fact, I could have mentioned many more books than the ones below, but I wanted to keep the list short.

In no special order, these are some of the books written by women which were a delight to read:

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

One of the most captivating books I’ve ever read, Rebecca was my first foray into Daphne du Maurier’s work. It is narrated by an unnamed woman who recalls meeting Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. She accepted to marry him, and they went to live at Manderley, his family home. There, the shadow of his deceased first wife, Rebecca, was even more present. Apparently, she had exceled at everything, so the narrator’s doubts and insecurities became overwhelming. The characters are complex, and the prose is utterly atmospheric. Continue reading