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

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 – February 2018

February is the shortest month of the year and there is still an entire day left, nevertheless I already have some favourites to share with you. I was hoping to read many more books this month than I did in January, but a rather exasperating cold prevented me to do so. Therefore, I ended up dedicating the majority of my free time to other interests.

I started watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix and, so far, managed to finish the first two seasons. To be honest, I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. It’s as an action crime drama focusing on the Shelby family, who ran a gang called the Peaky Blinders in Birmingham after the First World War. Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory are superb as Thomas Shelby and Polly, respectively. The soundtrack is also fantastic. It comprises contemporary songs, mainly from rock bands and artists like Nick Cave, Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood, which surprisingly fit rather well with the pace of the story. I also got some Sherlock Homes vibes from it, not in the sense of trying to figure out who was responsible for a crime, but of looking forward to discovering how Thomas managed to solve the complicated problems he was involved in.

After a really long time without truly loving a film, I spent two great hours watching The Shape of Water. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, it tells the story of how Elisa, a mute woman who worked as a cleaning lady at a government’s laboratory in the 60s, fell in love with an amphibian creature that was being kept in a tank. If you haven’t watched it yet, you really have to. The premise may seem strange, but the feelings depicted are totally convincing, mainly thanks to Sally Hawkins and her fantastic performance. Continue reading

‘The King’s General’ by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 stars

The King’s General was the third book I read by Daphne du Maurier, following the magnificent Rebecca and the enigmatic My Cousin Rachel. So, I could not help but compare it with the other two while reading. It feels quite different, not being either as atmospheric or as mysterious. Both characteristics are still present, they are just not as prevalent as I had anticipated before starting to delve into the pages of this historical novel about pride, love, war, betrayal and acceptance.

In 1653, Honor Harris, the narrator of this story, muses about previous life events and decides to write about them so that people understand why she loved Richard Grenvile despite all his faults. As with the other books I’ve read by Daphne du Maurier, the first chapter is utterly intriguing, attention-grabbing, and deserves to be reread after finishing the novel.

Honor takes us 30 years back in time to the moment when her oldest brother Kit returned home to Lanrest newlywed to Gartred, a young woman from a really important family – the Grenviles. Honor was 10 years old back then, and until that occasion had assumed that people married for love. 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 books whose stunning 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

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