Review: Five Short Stories by Daphne Du Maurier: “Don’t Look Now; The Breakthrough; Not After Midnight; A Border-Line Case; The Way of the Cross”

by Guest Reviewer “Cymrugirl”

While this collection of stories by Du Maurier is always interesting (her writing is so good it inevitably keeps you turning the pages to find out more), the conclusions of the stories often fail. Meaning is far too ambiguous to ever satisfy that eternal reader question “why did I read this?” Ambiguity can sometimes work well in literature, but at other times, it’s essential that an author provide a moment of clarity – if not spelled out, then in a single clue that can, potentially, be unraveled. This potential is not available with most of these. Granted, there are a couple of exceptions.

The title piece, “Don’t Look Now”, is a simple fatalistic tale with eerie Venetian landscapes and characters thrown in. The pieces all fit. The final “moment” when the pieces fit together is…ridiculous…and then it ends. There is no real profundity. But it’s a fun ride.

The Greek mythological “Not After Midnight” promises so much…and then just doesn’t deliver. What’s more, it leaves multiple loose ends dangling behind its already sinking ship. I enjoyed reading it but, like the first story, at its conclusion was really disappointed. There were so MANY different, fascinating directions this story could have gone and then it just sort of sits there. The prologue is, in some ways, forgotten – or she just gambles too hard on the reader being sure about her intentions.

I’m probably alone in thinking that “The Breakthrough” is the best executed of all the stories in the book. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A twilight zone, paranormal piece that, while leaving me uncomfortable, didn’t waste my time. While I can’t say that I “enjoyed” the ending, it felt cohesive.

I never want to read “A Border-Line Case” again. I didn’t like the people and the ending does not need to exist. (I’m fully aware that some people will just want to read it more after my saying that, but I’ll just say the trick’s on them) I actually felt scammed at the end of this story. SCAMMED. And nauseated.

“The Way of the Cross” is the weakest of the lot. It isn’t ever anything. I think it’s trying very hard to be profound but comes up gasping for air after swimming in very shallow waters. Sadly, I had the highest expectations for this one. It started with a very interesting structure – it was going places – and then suddenly I felt like we were back in the airport souvenir shop buying postcards and a cheap sandwich and we hadn’t really seen anything except the inside of our hotel room and why oh why did we waste money on this trip?

I love Du Maurier, but I probably won’t pick this up again. My final thought was that this is a collection of rejects from an author who typically does astonishingly better work. This felt like some sort of peace offering to an agent who just really wanted to publish something else.

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Not everything made of paper is a book

Exactly what is “ephemera,” anyway? You may have spotted that subcategory under our “Antiquarian and Collectibles.” Well, according to Merriam Webster, it is “ephemera plural: paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.”

According to Mothergooseberry Books, it is some really neat old pieces of history! We have newspapers, photos, vintage ads, playbills and programs, tickets, etc. And postcards. LOTS and LOTS of postcards. Basically, if it’s made of paper and has some kind of artwork / photography to look at, or words printed to read on it, it qualifies as ephemera in our “book.”

We have a lot of that, and we get really excited when we come across something so scarce that we wonder if it has to be a one-of-a-kind find! One example is this postcard for which we could find no other example anywhere on the internet. It is a photographic postcard of a very historical event: The entry of Kaiser Franz Josef into Berlin on May 4, 1900. It is so scarce that we even watermarked our photo to discourage pirates from borrowing it and trying to sell if they don’t really own one. If you want to own this for yourself, just click on the linked postcard below!

Entry of Kaiser Franz Josef into Berlin on May 4, 1900.

Entry of Kaiser Franz Josef into Berlin on May 4, 1900.

We have another really great article of “ephemera” to share later! In the meantime, enjoy your trip back in time on paper.

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Reviews of some Mothergooseberry Books

Remember having to give “book reports” when you were in school and getting graded on them? Well, stay tuned for reviews of some of our books.

Oh, and no one will be handing out grades on our reviews.

 

 

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We love books! And chances are so do you!

Welcome fellow book lovers! We love books and chances are you do, too!

Reading transports a person to the most exotic of destinations. Through the magic of books, we experience people, places and things not only in the ancient past, our present day time, but even the future. Reading and writing remains humankind’s most advanced and remarkable technology and most powerful tool in changing minds, civilizations, history, and destinies.

We will share a common love here. Our love of other worlds found in the pages of those treasures we readers cherish: books.

We will review.

We will discuss.

We will question.

But most of all, we will share.

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