Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nothing in Common

The two books I'm writing about today have nothing in common other than the fact that I was reading them at the same time. I had such different reactions to these books and the experience really sort of 'highlighted' my tastes.

Daphne: A Novelby Justine Picardie was the darling of the British book bloggers some time ago and I waiting for US publication, then paperback publication to finally find out why. The wait was worth it! I'm a little, okay a lot, embarrassed to say that I've never read Daphne du Maurier's work, the person this novel is based on. But to tell you the truth, that didn't really matter at all, when it came to enjoying this book. I mean, I think if I'd read Rebecca (I know the story, just haven't actually read it!) I would have gotten more out of it, but it was a very compelling story nonetheless. The story goes back and forth between three characters. Daphne herself is living a solitary life, researching the life of Branwell Bronte as her marriage is seemingly coming apart. Branwell Bronte scholar J.A. Symington is disgraced, and fielding letters from du Maurier requesting information about Bronte. The present day character is a female graduate student who is keeping her fascination with du Maurier and the link she has discovered with Symington a secret from her much older and distant husband.

Let us cut now to the other novel I was reading, The Ivy Treeby Mary Stewart. You might or might not remember my first experience with Mary Stewart. It was a good one and I expected nothing less with The Ivy Tree. Well, this is one of those times that I disagree with everyone else on Amazon who adored this book. The story sounded good; a young woman from Canada is minding her own business in England when a man comes upon her and declares her the dead ringer for his cousin, long thought to be dead. His cousin who apparently is entitled to the inheritance he is hoping for himself. Thus begins this tale of mystery and deceit. It would be an understatement to say I did not enjoy this very much. I am not a huge fan of looooong stretches of dialogue in books. This book, I felt, had the following structure. Long stretch of dialogue between young woman and one other character;loooong description of place and of the countryside; repeat. And the big twist? It wasn't hard to figure out.

So when the dialogue laden The Ivy Tree was juxtaposed with Daphne it was so easy to understand why I enjoyed Daphne so much more. Yes, there is of course dialogue, and yes, the characters go places and do things, but Daphne was a much more cerebrally driven novel. It's all about what everyone is thinking, not what they are saying. Apparently, I like that more. But for the record, I haven't given up on Mary Stewart.


Anonymous said...

Tara, I have Daphne here and mean to read it at some point. Don't you love the cover? I'm glad you shared your thoughts on it.

The Ivy Tree is definitely not one of my favorite Mary Stewart books. I read it many, many years ago and found it dull. You might try Wildfire at Midnight, This Rough Magic or The Gabriel Hounds. Those are among my favorites. Oh, also Touch Not the Cat. Don't give up on her! :-)

JoAnn said...

Well, one of them has been added to my list ;-)
I had an idea I'd like to read Daphne, but review has convinced me.

Staci said...

I love the cover to Daphne..that alone makes me want to read it!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I regularly read multiple books that have nothing to do with one another. That makes switching more of a "rest" for me!

bermudaonion said...

I've never read any of duMaurier's work either, but Daphne sure does sound good.

avisannschild said...

I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed Daphne! I haven't read du Maurier either, but I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Picardie's novel. Sorry to hear the Stewart one didn't meet your expectations!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Thanks for the review Tara. I love the cover too.

Cath said...

I have Daphne on my library pile right now. I have read some of her novels but not Rebecca, hopefully that won't matter too much. I particularly love her autobiographical book, Myself When Young. I think you would love it.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of Daphne, but it sounds like completely my sort of thing - and I think I've heard of Symington, though I can't remember where... Thanks for the recommendation!

P.S. Rebecca is a really good book. :P

Andi said...

I haven't read Du Maurier either! I always mean to, and I always don't for some reason. Go figure! Glad you enjoyed Daphne so much. The cover is beautiful, and I'm a sucker for gorgeous covers, so it may well end up on my TBR. :D

Jo said...

I've got Daphne here somewhere. I've read Rebecca but for some reason I was waiting till I'd read a couple of her others. Doesn't really sound like I need to though.

Tara said...

Kay, I adore the cover! Just gorgeous. Glad to know you didn't love The Ivy Tree! I'll look for the titles you suggested at the library, they seem to have a nice selection of original copies.

JoAnn, wonder which?? Hehe. Glad Daphne appeals to you.

Staci, me too!

rhapsody in books, that's what I like to do as well.

Kathy, it's a good read.

avisannschild, it was a really good read! Though now I do want to read Rebecca, etc.

Diane, you are welcome! So do I!

Cath, I have a feeling if I'd read Rebecca I would have noticed more similarities perhaps btwn Rebecca and Daphne's stories? But it's not necessary. I have to look into Myself When Young, I generally like books you recommend, you know!

Jennysbooks, then I bet you would like this; I have a copy of Rebecca on the way!

Andi, me too, me too! I too adore the gorgeous covers, sometimes I have to force myself not to buy things just because of the cover!

Jo, I think you'd be okay reading it now. If you want! I hope you enjoy it.

Anna said...

I have Rebecca collecting dust on my shelf but haven't read it yet. I think Daphne sounds like a really good book, and it's good to know you don't have to have read the author to enjoy it.

Diary of an Eccentric

Chrisbookarama said...

You must read some DuMaurier even if it's her short stories (which are very good). She was such a great writer.

Tara said...

Anna, I have had Rebecca for a while myself. Must get to it!

Chris, I will, in fact I do have a book of her short stories recommended by Danielle.

melanie said...

I couldn't finish Ivy Tree. But I am open to trying a different Mary Stewart book.

Tara said...

melanie, I really enjoyed Nine Coaches Waiting, which is the only other Stewart book I've read.