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Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters Paperback – 27 Feb 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (27 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000734709X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007347094
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Dunn is a leading biographer, the author of 'Moon in Eclipse: A Life of Mary Shelley', 'A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Wolf', and 'Antonia White: A Life'. 'Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens' was published in the spring of 2003 and spent seven weeks in the top ten of the Sunday Times bestseller list. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Dunn lives near Bath with her husband, the linguist and writer Nicholas Ostler. Her most recent book is 'Read My Heart'.

Product Description

Review

‘Perceptive and exuberant … a saga that is sparklingly re-told’ The Times

‘The fascination for readers is the different character and destiny of each sister, plus their relationships with one another and with the dynamics of the family romance – and few family romances have been more potent than that of the du Mauriers’ Spectator

‘Daphne is a compelling subject – passionate and cold, attractive and repellent … Angela suffers, as she did in life …from … Daphne’s infinitely more intriguing saga’ Evening Standard

‘Meticulous, perceptive … it is a sign of Jane Dunn’s generous professionalism that she accords the du Maurier girls the same respect that she gave Bloomsbury’s high priestesses in her acclaimed study of Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell’ Financial Times

‘Engaging … this book’s strength lies in its account of a trio of lives developing during a period of class and gender upheaval, and the sisters’ response to social change’ Independent

‘Compelling … sensitive and sympathetic … loneliness is the thudding heart of Dunn’s book, about three pampered sisters who never quite overcame the handicap of not being boys’ Daily Telegraph

‘Intriguing and revelatory biography … [of] complex and contradictory lives’ Scotsman

‘Jane Dunn specialises in female relationships, and she has found three splendid women for her new book … Dunn writes with haunting delicacy … and she evokes a long-lost England in which women felt deep passions and survived emotional hurricanes with amazing outward restraint’ Mail on Sunday

‘Dunn is excellent on the lesbian 1920s and 30s in London, with delicious detail’ Guardian

‘An original, well-researched and very readable book full of well-chosen details and perceptive observations. In the subject of rivalry between literary sisters Jane Dunn has found a little goldmine’ Literary Review

About the Author

Described by the Sunday Times as ‘one of our best biographers’, Jane Dunn writes about women and their relationships, and sisters in particular. Her books include a biography of the sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell and the bestseller ‘Elizabeth & Mary’, which looks at the lives of the cousin queens Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Bath with her husband the writer and linguist, Nicholas Ostler.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed many of Jane Dunn's previous biographies, including A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf which also looked at the relationship between sisters ; so I had great expectations of her latest work and was not disappointed. Angela, Daphne and Jeanne du Maurier were born into a family of storytellers, the celebrity children of actor/theatre manager father Gerald and actress mother, Muriel Beaumont. Theirs was a life of privilege and a feeling of being special, although it was certainly not always happy. Muriel was a remote and selfish woman, while Gerald was mercurial, emotional, attention seeking and demanding. Daphne certainly came to dislike the constant socialising and, it is clear from the book, that Gerald always put himself first and the household spent much time in trying to placate him and keep him happy. All three girls shied away from the ideal of their parents marriage, with Muriel giving up her career to put her husband first at all times and, as they grew older, Angela and Daphne came to dread their father's attempts to control their lives and friendships.

Angela, the eldest, was a trusting and emotional girl, slightly overweight and plainer than her sisters. She often became the butt of Gerald's cruel humour and it is plain that her self confidence suffered under his jibes. Daphne was far more detached, less naive and believing. Jeanne, the youngest, was closer to her mother than the elder daughters. Daphne was easily Gerald's favourite, although her relationship with her mother suffered because of it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By stef on 12 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well researched and intelligently written, (I found myself, as I do when reading Hilary Mantel, re-reading certain passages in admiration of Jane Dunn's skill with words).
The characters in the lives of the Du Maurier sisters are often monstrous, occasionally
bewildering and sometimes hilarious. The development of individual human sexuality over a lifetime, and, in particular, in the lives of the three sisters forms the core of this book.
Stuffed full of ghastly lovers, unconventional friends and eccentric family members brought alive by the author's brilliant characterisation, this book is a tour de force about an age which no longer exists, and, sadly, an indictment of how unwittingly we parents can damage our children through benign neglect. Would Rebecca have been written if Daphne's mother had cuddled her more? Or is the creative impulse sharpened by frustration and uncertainty?
This fascinating book provokes as many questions as it answers which is why it is such rewarding read.
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Format: Hardcover
Jane Dunn is an expert on filial relationships. Her books on Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, and Queen Elizabeth 1 and Mary Queen of Scots were both highly acclaimed, and Read My Heart: Dorothy Osborne and Sir William Temple, A Love Story in the Age of Revolutionthis book is an equally fascinating read. It explores the relationship between three unusual sisters, complicated by the middle one Daphne being more famous, more successful and more beautiful than the other two, and the favourite of their father - the greatest actor/manager of his day, Gerald du Maurier. However it also sheds a revealing light on the social changes of the twentieth century - albeit as largely experienced by the elite - and the effect of two world wars.
There's plenty to satisfy our modern fascination with sex. All three women had lesbian tendencies, and Angela and Jeanne eventually settled for same-sex relationships. But the greatest love of Daphne's life was not her war hero husband and three children but a house: `Menabilly', the model for Manderley in Rebecca, that she rented in Cornwall, and lived in for 22 years. We are left puzzling over whether the sisters' lesbian leanings were the result of their over -privileged - and yet deprived upbringing by a cool mother and a father whose feelings towards them appear to have verged on incestuousness. Perhaps the first world war that decimated male youth, causing a shortage of men of suitably marriageable age, also played its part? Or was it something more innate?
Although Daphne's life is better documented, Dunn has successfully teased out the lives of the other two who, overshadowed by Daphne's success, were relatively successful in their own right.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By RC on 11 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book was a treat.

I was absorbed in a world where real life was not on the agenda for these three very different du Maurier sisters.

The effects that their 'make believe' childhood would have on their adult lives and relationships are perceptively examined by Jane Dunn.

For me, the author pulls together the web of threads and considerable background information, both of the era and the manner in which they lived.

As a result of which I am now looking forward to reading Angela du Maurier's books and viewing Jeanne du Maurier's paintings to get a broader and more balanced picture of all the du Maurier talents.
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