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Daphne [Hardcover]

Justine Picardie
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Mar 2008
It is 1957. The author Daphne du Maurier, beautiful, famous, despairing as her marriage falls apart, finds herself haunted by Rebecca, the heroine of her most famous novel, written twenty years earlier. Resolving to write herself out of her misery, Daphne becomes passionately interested in Branwell, the reprobate brother of the Bronte sisters, and begins a correspondence with the enigmatic bibliophile Alex Symington as she researches a biography. But behind Symington's respectable scholarly surface is a slippery character with much to hide, and soon truth and fiction have become indistinguishable.In present-day London, a lonely young woman, newly married after a fleeting courtship with a man considerably older than her, struggles with her PhD thesis. Her husband, still seemingly in thrall to his brilliant, charismatic first wife, is frequently distant and mysterious, and she can't find a way to make this large, imposing house in Hampstead feel like her own. Retreating instead into the comfort of her library, she begins to become absorbed in a fifty-year-old literary mystery. The last untold Bronte story, "Daphne" is a tale of obsession and possession; of stolen manuscripts and forged signatures; of love lost, and love found. It is a beautiful, original novel from the acclaimed author of "Wish I May".

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 (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 925,274 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fine psychological analysis 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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this! 11 May 2009
By Dot
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Messy and incoherent 1 Aug 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good novel 31 May 2011
By Jose
A literary novel involving Daphne Du Maurier? This book has allowed me to know her better and also discover the Bronte's universe. I could barely put the book down until I finished it. The characters (Daphne, her husband Tommy, Jane, Alexander Symington) are engrossing in many different ways. I highly recommend this book. I am now left with the task to find and read: a biography of D. Du Maurier, Wuthering Heights and a bio of the Bronte sisters.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautifully written, page turning novel, based on biographical fact, that appealed to me particularly because of the two central concerns---Daphne du Maurier and the Brontes, with especial reference to Branwell. Three narrative strands--two set in 1957, at the time when du Maurier was beginning work on her biography of Branwell Bronte--and one set in the present time are skilfully woven together and thematically linked. I read this book in one afternoon, unable to put it down, and was immediately inspired to re-read Margaret Forster's Life of Daphne du Maurier, and turn again to several Bronte biographies.
Superb and scholarly! Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars ...making notes as they sat there, surrounded by the skeletons and...
Justine Picardie does a creditable job on the atmosphere surrounding Daphne Du Maurier and the various adherent people including the Bronte's and J M Barrie and his lost boys, but... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Eileen Shaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Daphne by Justine Picardie
I have not quite finished this book yet (80% read) but am not finding it very interesting in fact quite boring. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mrs J.M. Lovell
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
I enjoyed this book very much. It was well written and made me care about the characters and what happened to them. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2011 by Carmel
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and insightful tale which would appeal to du Maurier and...
I loved this book. It is based on a true story centring around Daphne du Maurier's biography about Branwell Bronte. Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2010 by Butterflylady
4.0 out of 5 stars very satisfying
A study of literature - a romance of texts - of poignant difficult marriages, of people real and fictional, seamlessly stitched together. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2010 by C. F. Hankinson
3.0 out of 5 stars So full of promise but...
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... Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2009 by Suzie
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark claustrophobic mystery
I picked up this book because of my love of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (Virago modern classics). This book is based on real events, real people and real places. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2009 by Jo D'Arcy
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost in the style of du Maurier
Having been a fan of Daphne du Maurier for exactly forty years, it was good to read a 'take' on some of her biographical background. Read more
Published on 14 July 2009 by G. D. Busby
3.0 out of 5 stars Daphne
I wanted to read this book intially as one of the minor characters was related to me, and I was interested in how the author was going to present the person. Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2009 by C. Curran
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