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The Birds and Other Stories (Virago Modern…

The Birds and Other Stories (Virago Modern Classics) (original 1952; edition 2003)

by Daphne du Maurier

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6322415,341 (3.82)29
Title:The Birds and Other Stories (Virago Modern Classics)
Authors:Daphne du Maurier
Info:Virago (2003), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Boxed
Tags:35, Virago

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The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (1952)


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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
This is my very first Daphne Du Maurier read and it will not be the last. The stories varied in quality but I enjoyed them all to some degree. The writing was superb, whether I liked the story or not. Can't wait to read her most famous works.

1. The Birds - This is one of my favourite Hitchcock movies and the story is so different from the movie that it is hard to not compare it to the movie. I can see how Hitchcock used the atmosphere of the story and pulled a couple of scenes from it. I think I like the plot of the story here better than the movie but Hitchcock's version is too ingrained into me to not be a little disappointed to find they are so completely different. But I really liked this and think it is a brilliant piece of horror fiction. (4/5)

2. Monte Verita - This starts off as a classic atmospheric eerie Gothic tale and there is a point, perhaps halfway through where it could have been closed off and ended. However, it is at this point that the story gets a second wind and turns into a more haunting and metaphysical tale of finding truth, the meaning of life, peace. Can (should) Utopia exist? Fine story-telling, though I preferred the first half. (4/5)

3. The Apple Tree - Again, I liked this. A haunting, atmospheric tale. Briefly put, a man is haunted by an apple tree after the death of his wife. The tree is old, gnarled and misshapen. He wants to cut it down but his gardener thinks he can get it to flower this yeat. Perhaps the tree symbolizes his wife or his marriage but in the end getting rid of what ails you didn't make him happier. (4/5)

4. The Little Photographer - This is about an incredibly horrible woman, The Marquise, who lounges around all day getting fatigued from painting her nails. She's lonely because her husband works a lot, though he's devoted. She moans and muses about her sad little life thinking how other women in her place would have an affair but no she hasn't not ever. But daydreams of affairs and flings turn to an encounter which has no emotions connected to it and The Marquise is a very class system oriented woman. Fortunately, she gets hers in the end. While I abhorred both main characters, the endings for both of them were as they deserved. (3/5)

5. Kiss Me Again, Stranger - A young man lives a contented life, working, living with a couple for room and board and he's never been much one for the women, never having found anyone who really struck his fancy. But this particular night he meets her, the woman who makes him start thinking of a future, and he spends the evening with her on the bus, having coffee and not arriving back home until three in the morning. The next day he founds out something shocking. (4/5)

6. The Old Man - Hmmm. The narrator is talking to the reader as if we've asked her a question and she proceeds to tell us about her neighbour, the Old Man, his wife, their three daughters and one son. They are an unusual family, keeping to themselves. The man is angry and temperamental, the wife devoted to him, the girls beautiful and hard works while boy is large and simple-minded. The story starts of frivolous and becomes darker and darker. Then when it reaches it's darkest moment DuMaurier changes the perspective with the final paragraph. I liked the story but that last twist threw me and it didn't resonate with me. A strange story really. (3/5) ( )
  ElizaJane | Apr 15, 2014 |
This is one of the better collections of du Maurier's short stories. Eight in all, they have the creepy, tuck your feet under you so something doesn't grab you under the chair feel. Not that the stories are particularly scary. They are fraught with tension. The author is adept at portraying people as they see themselves, but letting the reader see beneath the veneer as well. We see their vanity, pride, greed or envy and the ugly spot it makes in their life simply because the character will not see it.

In my opinion, four of these stories are very strong and perfect short stories; Kiss Me Again, Stranger, The Birds, The Split Second (this one did go on too long, and it was repetitive, but a nice story) and No Motive. Each leaves you wanting more, thinking beyond the tale, and yet each is a finished story. Of the other four, The Little Photographer, Monte Verita, and The Apple Tree dragged for me. I was done with them long before they were over. The Old Man struck me as being a school assignment. Or the author got lazy. The ending provoked me even though I knew something like that was coming. All of them are strong stories though. ( )
  MrsLee | Aug 13, 2013 |
I’d never read Daphne Du Maurier until I read Kiss Me Again, Stranger, a collection of 8 short stories. “Where have I been all these years?”, I asked myself. Housed in the mystery section of the antiquarian bookstore Westsider Rare and Used Books on Broadway and 78th Street (give or take a block or two), some stories were mysteries and some were just odd, for lack of a better term. All were good.

I did learn something from the book, though. Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds was based on a Du Maurier story of the same name. That and the fact that Du Maurier wrote the story and the screenplay is almost where the similarity ends. One takes place in the U.S. and the other in England. One has a romance and one doesn’t. One is about survival and the other isn’t. I must admit the original story is quite compelling. They are both scary, though!

I’d tell you my favorite story, but they are all so different and as I look at the titles to write this, they all conjure up the story lines and I like them all. Kiss Me Again, Stranger, the story, is about GIs being murdered. The Apple Tree is about a tree taking revenge. The Little Photographer is about a vacation liaison turned bad and No Motive is about a suicide. You see, the stories are all over the place, but once started, I couldn’t put the book down.

I find that Du Maurier’s stories and Vera Caspary’s writings have a similarity in their feel. Contemporaries (Laura by Caspary was written in 1943 and Rebecca by Du Maurier was written in 1938) it is not the mystery that is commanding but the story, the atmosphere created by the authors, the surroundings described by the authors. These are not ‘police procedurals’. They are creations. A few days ago I wrote about painting a picture with words. I found both Du Maurier and Caspary created canvases.

I know I’ve just rambled but since I couldn’t really describe the stories, I had to find a way to tell you why I like these authors so much. I hope I have and I hope my enthusiasm will rub off on you. ( )
1 vote EdGoldberg | May 7, 2013 |
If only everyone had half Daphne du Maurier's flair with narrators, I wouldn't be wary of first person narratives at all. I love the way she writes: it feels dated, of course, but that just seems part of the flavour of her stories for me. And her skill with twists -- I don't know why her short stories aren't used more in creative writing classes, because they really demonstrate the power of the sting in the tail of a story.

Anyway, I'm not sure which was my favourite story from this book. All of them had a hold on me while I was reading: The Birds creeped me out, and made me wonder -- what if something as bizarre and out of the blue happened? What would we do. Monte Verità filled me with a sort of longing, really, to climb that mountain and at least see those women from afar, and I really liked the way it was put together, so that it only all made sense at the end. The Apple Tree was well done, with one of those so-revealing narrators that du Maurier was so good at, but it's definitely not my favourite -- and The Little Photographer just made me uncomfortable and angry; I saw the danger coming early, in that story, possibly through the help of having read reviews and from knowing what the sting in the tail would be like. Kiss Me Again, Stranger is a story I'd love to have written, with that slightly creepy nameless female and oh, that ending line. The Old Man is a really short one, but no less effective for that, and I'd best not spoil a word of it for future readers. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
My favourite story from this collection is "The Apple Tree". The stories are, each in its own way, deliciously creepy.But deliciously creepy, with a slightly bitter note. Yes, there are enjoyable elements to every one. (The Old Man was my next favourite, but then I get nervous about choosing favourites after that because there are only six stories in total and I don't like to think that one of them would end up at the bottom of my list. I don't like choosing favourites.) But the female characters in this collection's stories are described in such negative terms and presented in such limited and predictable roles that much of the fun was siphoned away.The wife in "The Birds" was particularly annoying. And, well, maybe that's the point. Perhaps we readers are meant to all-the-more strongly sympathize with the poor man with the incredibly useless wife. The poor man who must protect not only his two children, but his...oh, might as well make that three children...for his wife contributes nothing positive to the terrifying situation this family finds itself in and, in fact, she hinders the man's efforts to shore up their defenses and her weakness forces him to make poor decisions which compromise their safety fundamentally. But she's not annoying in an interesting way. No, she's annoying in a predictably two-dimensional Little Woman manner. In an over-the-top-eyes-rolling way. If I can manage to squeeze my frustration over characterization aside, "The Birds" is even more disturbing than the Hitchcock film based on it. There is a darkness and despair to the story in its original form that I did not intuit from the film. Were it not for the caricature of the wife's sketch, I would have lost sleep over this one. If you want to read my slightly longer review, you can find it here. ( )
  buriedinprint | Sep 15, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daphne du Maurierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cardi, Alma ReeseDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tomes, MargotIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Publishing history - 1952, UK, Gollancz "The Apple Tree and Other Stories"; 1953, US, Doubleday "Kiss Me Again, Stranger"; 1963, UK, Pan "The Birds and Other Stories".  This last title is the one that has continued to be used ever since. (As far as i can tell)
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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...
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