Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


by Justine Picardie

I'm not going to expound too much on this novel, because I've already been working on an article (whether it will see the light of day or not remains to be determined) that relates to it...

But it's an important book for those who have egalitarian bookwormy tastes like mine, in that it uses fiction to really address the cult of the female reader and her relationship to the female writers who have come before her.

Basically, Daphne is two stories: one involving Daphne DuMaurier and her obsession with Branwell Bronte, her obsessive quest to "unlock" his secrets, and her back-and-forth correspondence with a weird old British scholar with some secrets of his own.

The second story involves a DuMaurier and Bronte-loving narrator, nameless, who's involved in a marriage with a domineering older man who scorns her taste in literature, and who pines over his lovely, charismatic ex, a sexy poet named Rachel.

The allusions to Rebecca here (and thereby to Jane Eyre) are obvious, and there are also tons of references to other literary folks, like JM Barrie and more, and that's the worst part of Daphne: too literary inside-baseball, even for me. It gets confusing.

But Picardie's quietly strong storytelling and her musings on the relationships between women, each other, and the books they love is really compelling. I felt for the narrator, even in her ignorance at times, and I thought Picardie was quite astute, and sometimes painfully so, getting into these two women's heads. As for the sweeping cliffs of Cornwall and the rattling streets of London--yes, the scenery that backgrounds good old British Fiction endures the test of time quite well!

I have to say it's a must-read for fans of DuMaurier and the Brontes and all who are interested in the concept of a female literary tradition... which brings me to the Madwoman in the Attic, my next review, which you shall receive forthwith.

So stay tuned:)

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