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Daphne Hardcover – 3 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition 3rd Impression edition (3 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747587027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747587026
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 13.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 853,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Justine Picardie is the author of five books, including her critically acclaimed memoir, If The Spirit Moves You and her most recent novel Daphne. The former features director of Vogue, editor of the Observer magazine and a columnist for the Telegraph, she is now editor-in-chief for Harper's Bazaar.

Product Description


'A tantalising literary mystery... Effortlessly overlaying today's London, Yorkshire and Cornwall with their 1950s incarnations, this novel draws you in to its fraught but passionate world as thoroughly as one of Daphne's own.' -- The Financial Times

'Blurring fact and fiction, this is brave and compelling storytelling.' -- Woman and Home

'Daphne is a compulsively readable novel. It merges fact and fiction, the present and the past, in a near-flawless construct that weaves together Brontë and du Maurier fiction and family history -- colliding in Daphne's writing of her biography of Branwell Brontë.'
-- The Spectator

'Justine Picardie has written an absorbing book, a hybrid work of truth, conjecture, fact and fiction, and a story of insight and intelligence.' -- Times Literary Supplement

'Last night I dreamed of Branwell B again...' Daphne du Maurier's passionate interest in the life of the Bronte brother is at the heart of Justine Picardie's gripping novel, Daphne.' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Picardie's clever and original novel presents...an argument for a reassessment of du Maurier's literary quality.' -- Evening Standard

'Skillfully weaving her recreation of du Maurier's life with a beguiling present-day tale, Picardie's novel has as many twists as one of her heroine's own.' -- Red

'Switching between past and present, the novel explores the lives of Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca, and the young woman writing a thesis about her in present-day London. A woman who just happens to be married to an older man who is obsessed with his first wife...' -- Eve

'This glorious novel... is a divine treat for lovers of literary mysteries.'
-- The Times

`This literary mystery is a dizzying mixture of fiction and fact ... A compelling character study of Daphne du Maurier' -- Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Justine Picardie is the author of If the Spirit Moves You: Life and Love After Death, the novel Wish I May and, most recently, My Mother's Wedding Dress. She is also the co-writer or editor of several other books. She was formerly the features editor of British Vogue and is now a columnist for Harper's Bazaar and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ennio Piantato on 11 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I find "Daphne" a very interesting intertwined story with deep and psychologically fine descriptions of characters, particularly Daphne du Maurier and her fan. Being a psychiatrist myself, I recognize the realistic descriptions of psychopathological signs shown by Miss du Maurier and her husband on one hand and on the other the difficulties of a marital (human) relation between the contemporary couple formed by Paul and his du Maurier fan second wife. Moreover the unfortunate life of Branwell Bronte develops as a sort of background and uniting tissue connecting all characters of the story.
The book is very well and intelligently written and has been a real pleasure to read it in this cold and snowy winter that has transformed my Italian Piedmont in a sort of Lapland.
I DO invite to read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Suzie on 2 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
For me, this looked and sounded irresistible. Even the cover beckoned - a muted, misty invitation to walk through the gates, to follow the girl with the rose umbrella along a drive that twists and turns through the trees, until we reach Manderley - or Menabilly, a Menabilly haunted by du Maurier's most famous creation, Rebecca. But it was all a dream because, sadly, the reality failed to deliver, and not just because of the long, rambling sentences that distract from the story and spoil an otherwise fluent style.

The book is really three intertwining stories based on fact and centred round Daphne du Maurier's fascination with the Brontë family, in particular Branwell at a particularly miserable time in her marriage to Sir Thomas Browning. Daphne's quest to unearth original documents that might prove Branwell to have been as great a literary force as his sisters is mirrored by the story of a young research student, whose own life seems consumed by her fascination with Daphne du Maurier. Her marriage to an older man with a beautiful former wife is so obviously based on the storyline of du Maurier's Rebecca that it hardly needs spelling out. Then there is Daphne's correspondence with Symington, the disgraced former custodian of the Brontë library at Haworth and the Brotherton Collection (although she was seemingly unaware of the circumstances of his leaving these positions).

It's not all bad. I enjoyed parts of the book, but found some others dull and tedious because they were so repetitive - the continuous requests by Daphne du Maurier for more information from Alex Symington, for instance, and his evasive and sometimes reluctant replies. I also formed the impression that the author was trying desperately to create a sense of mystery where none existed.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dot on 11 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I have read this over the weekend, as soon as I started it, I knew I would not want to put it down. Justine Picardie has written a literary mystery which revolves around Daphne Du Maurier who is my favourite author. I do not always like fictionalised accounts of real people but it is evident from the very first page that the author has done painstaking research into her subject. Daphne is based on biographical fact and there are three key strands to the story. Obviously Daphne Du Maurier is the main one and we meet her in 1957 as she begins work on her new book on Branwell Bronte and enlists the help of Alex Symington, a distinguished Bronte scholar. The Brontes, especially Branwell provide the second focus and the many mysteries surrounding the family are explored. The third strand of the book is set in the present day and follows an un-named narrator who is embarking on her thesis concerning Daphne Du Maurier and the Brontes.
Justine Picardie weaves her story so well, the basic idea is very simple but it is all the little details and sub-stories she explores that make this book so fantastic. The character of Daphne Du Maurier is perfect, I felt like she had captured this woman so well. Justine Picardie explores Daphne's childhood and relationship with her father Gerald plus the difficult relationship she has with her husband, the great Boy Browning. I also found the connection between Daphne and the Llewelyn Davies brothers (the children that J.M. Barrie adopted and based Peter Pan on) truly fascinating.
I felt that perception of one's self was a key theme of the book. Daphne at many points feels she has to act in a certain way as a best-selling author and wife of a war hero rather than truly being herself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 1 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
This sounded great from the blurb: Daphne du Maurier, literary shenanigans and the Brontes, some of my favourite things: but the actual execution seems quite haphazard and incoherent.

Like so many contemporary novels, this has a past and a present story: the past involves Daphne du Maurier's correspondence with Symington, an ex-Bronte curator and librarian who stole some manuscripts of Branwell's. She is also undergoing some kind of nervous breakdown herself while dealing with the infidelity and breakdown of her husband.

The present story is a re-writing of Rebecca: an unnamed young PhD student marries an older academic and is brought to his home in Hampstead which is still haunted by his ex-wife who is, however, very much still alive. She is doing some vague research into the relationship between du Maurier and the Brontes, to supposedly tie the whole narrative together.

There are lots of strands to this novel but they don't seem to coalesce very well: DdM has eerie hallucinations, thinks about her quasi-incestuous relationship with her father, remembers the cousins who were the original lost boys of Barrie's Peter Pan, thinks about her own past infidelities while being upset by her husband's, and is obsessed with Branwell Bronte. While there are thematic alliances (the incest theme in Brontean writing, for example) none of this ever came together in a satisfying way. Similarly in the present story, the girl finally just abandons her thesis and takes a job in a bookshop.

So this had huge potential but ultimately failed to come together in any satisfying way and just fizzled out - very disappointing.
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