Friday, 22 August 2008

The Birds and other stories

Title: The Birds and Other Stories

Author: Daphne du Maurier

Number of pages: 242

Started: 14 August 2008

Finished: 22 August 2008

Opening words:

On December the third the wind changed overnight and it was winter. Until then the autumn had been mellow, soft. The leaves had lingered on the trees, golden red, and the hedgerows were still green. The earth was rich where the plough had turned it.

Plot summary:

The idea for this famous story came to du Maurier one day when she was walking across to Menabilly Barton farm from the house. She saw a farmer busily ploughing a field whilst above him the seagulls were diving and wheeling. She developed an idea about the birds becoming hostile and attacking him. In her story, the birds become hostile after a harsh winter with little food -- first the seagulls, then birds of prey, and finally even small birds -- all turn against mankind. The nightmarish vision appealed to Hitchcock who turned it into the celebrated film.

Summary taken from Amazon.

'How long he fought with them in the darkness he could not tell, but at last the beating of the wings about him lessened and then withdrew . . . '

A classic of alienation and horror, 'The Birds' was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's sense of dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of 'Monte Verità' promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd . . .

Summary taken from Fantastic Fiction.

What I thought:

I liked this book, but not as much as the other Daphne du Maurier books that I have read. It was a series of short stories, all in some way showing the darker side of life. In some ways there were no clear endings to some of the stories, but perhaps that was part of the point and helped to set the tone.

A reasonable read, not as good as her others, but if you like short stories then these are good ones to try.

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