Myself When Young (Virago Modern Classics)
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Both her novels and her non-fiction reveal Daphne du Maurier's overwhelming desire to explore her family's history. In Myself When Young, based on diaries that she kept from 1920-1932, the most famous du Maurier probes her own past, beginning with her earliest memories and encompassing the publication of her first book and her subsequent marriage. Here, the writer is open and sometimes painfully honest about the difficult relationship with her father; her education in Paris; early love affairs; her antipathy towards London life and the theatre; her intense love for Cornwall and her desperate ambition to succeed as a writer. The resulting portrait is of a captivating and complex character.
much more conscientious over her lessons, was not so sure. Miss Webb, of the third form, was a dragon, and scored through her sums with a blue pencil, so that D, upset by the tears Angela shed over her homework, would ring up his business manager Tom Vaughan and say, ‘Tom, old man, these damn decimals, I can’t do them for her, can you?’ What’s more, Tom Vaughan obliged. Miss Druce, in form two, was more kindly disposed, and the only time I got into trouble was when I forged M’s signature on the
Crusoe (‘Excelent’), The Mill on the Floss (‘Soulful’). Yes, perhaps it takes a little while to appreciate George Eliot.… On Wednesday, January 7th, the mood changes. The midshipman’s dirk is temporarily laid aside. ‘We give a dance. It is from 7 until 11. We have great fun. There are lovely refreshments. I only have to dance with two girls, all the rest I dance with boys. Marcus Stedall is very nice. I believe he is gone on me.’ This festive mood continues throughout the week, at other
work every day in his studio. I could never be so industrious. How strange.… Then I remembered Paris. But of course. That nostalgia for his boyhood days, for Passy, so that for ever afterwards he was somehow torn between two countries, and although successful and happy kept dreaming of the past, wondering about those French ancestors he had never known. Yes, I might well be like that one day. But not yet. The present was the thing. And good news came from Fernande: she had succeeded at last in
And it wasn’t Paris after all, despite a happy three weeks at Easter walking Schüller in the Bois, strolling on the rive gauche, drinking lemonade through a straw in the cafés in the Boulevard Montparnasse, or reading Balzac while Fernande wrote letters to prospective parents of pupils. It was Cornwall. Daphne at Ferryside Ferryside had been in the hands of the builders and decorators throughout the winter and spring, supervised from time to time by M, who had a great gift for planning a home:
safely. The sight was mournful. On one side, pathetic, and spars and driftwood cast on the shore. Even a magazine lying in a pool. People like busy flies on the beach scavenging.’ The sight would remain in memory. Not for The Loving Spirit but for another book, Rebecca, many years later, the seed as yet unsown. I had completed three chapters of Part Four, and I had planned seven to come. One thing was certain. It would not be written in the style of a novel I had found on Miss Roberts’ shelf