The Rebecca Notebook & other memories by Daphne du Maurier

The Rebecca Notebook

I was lucky enough to pick up this book in an Edinburgh bookshop. It was just lying amongst sundry miscellaneous books, in a basket on the floor. So I was really surprised when I had a look inside it and discovered that it had been signed by Daphne du Maurier, it’s a hardback and in perfect condition. It was cheap too, so I had to buy it!

If you’re into Daphne du Maurier I think this is a book which you will want to read. Over the years I’ve heard that du Maurier was a bit of an odd bod – one of the awkward squad, but honestly, which of us isn’t at some time or another?!

Anyway, I was a wee bit trepidatious about reading the book as if I don’t like an author it doesn’t half put me off reading their books, I know, silly but true. All was well though as I think that the author’s voice came through really clearly and I DID like her. In fact I agreed with her about lots of things.

This book was first published in 1981 and as she says, it was almost 40 years since she had written Rebecca but she still had her notebook in which she had jotted down her plans for the outline of the book, quite detailed really and a must read for any devotee of Rebecca.

The rest of the book contains 11 prose pieces, not articles as such she says, for she had never been a journalist. They come under the heading of Memories and some are her reminiscences of her father and grandfather. Others are her thoughts on subjects such as Romantic Love, Death and Widowhood, Moving House, and A Winter’s Afternoon, Kilmarth – to name a few of them.

She was a woman for whom houses seem to have been the most important thing in her life. Possibly her children felt that Menabilly, her house in Cornwall for 25 years, was more important to their mother than they were and I suppose that would be more than a bit annoying.

It’s interesting to note that Daphne du Maurier didn’t actually own either of the houses she lived in in Cornwall, she rented them on long leases from the family which had owned them for generations. Times have changed so much since those days, people equate owning a house with success and stabilty now and hate the thought of having to rent.

I had also completely forgotten that Daphne’s father had been related to the ‘Darling’ family of Peter Pan fame, or in other words the Llewelyn-Davies family. Sylvia L-D was Daphne’s aunt and she writes about the family in the article titled Sylvia’s Boys who were of course well known to her as they grew up together. J.M. Barrie was known to them all as Uncle Jim at a time when he had umpteen plays on in various London theatres, he did far more than just write Peter Pan. What an advantage for an aspiring writer!

13 thoughts on “The Rebecca Notebook & other memories by Daphne du Maurier

  1. I enjoyed this book – and your post too, makes me want to dip into the book again. Daphne du Maurier could maybe called an eccentric and she doesn’t sound an easy person to live with or be related to. Have you read Margaret Forster’s biography of her ‘Daphne’? It’s very detailed and took me quite some time to read but it’s an extremely well researched and informative account of her life, taken from her letters and private papers, with personal memories of her from her children, grandchildren and friends.

    • Margaret,
      I’m going to have to get a hold of the Forster ‘Daphne’ biography, it sounds like a ‘must read’. Mind you, I’ve not forgiven Forster yet for that book which we were both duped by – so called diary! I can’t even remember its name – I’ve obviously blocked it out.

  2. What luck to find an autographed copy and in such good condition! I’ve never heard of this book, but I’ll be looking for it. I like biographies and, even better, autobiographies.

    • Joan,
      I found that book just after we came back from our visit to Haye on Wye, where I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to buy in the whole town! I always find books when I least expect to.

  3. Hope you keep hold of the book!

    It sounds like an interesting read especially as Rebecca is one of my most favourite books. Might have to look out for it based on that alone.

    • Jo,
      I definitely will be holding on to it, apart from anything else I think that its’s one that I might dip into again. Rebecca was my first ‘comfort’ book and I read it every now and again, I’ve been doing it for more than 40 years now, it’s a bit of a shock to realise that!

  4. Sounds very interesting, Rebecca is one of my favorites. Does it say anything about Jane Eyre? Many people say it’s a reworking, but I vaguely remember something where she says no, she wasn’t inspired by Bronte.

    • Karen K,
      She doesn’t mention Jane Eyre but I always thought that it was a re-working of Jane Eyre, it certainly has plenty of similarities and I remember people always used to describe it as a modern Jane Eyre. I’ll have to read Daphne’s biography.

      • I think I read something at the end of one of the Rebecca editions, she writes about her inspiration for the book. I think it was really inspired by a giant house in Cornwall. Might be time for a re-read, it’s the perfect time of year for it.

  5. Yes – what a find! Nice work, you!

    I’ve downloaded a bunch of books lately, as my travel is picking up again. But it’s impossible to get a signed copy that way!

    • Pearl,
      Yes, Kindles are handy when travelling but I still love ‘real’ books.

      I’ve just seen that my Kindle is now £20 cheaper than when I bought mine a few months ago – I knew that would happen, and my camera isn’t working properly, new one required I think, very annoying. That old box Brownie which I gave away to a charity shop recently was still working after about 70 years!

  6. Pingback: From the Archives: Biographies | BooksPlease

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