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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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5492018,225 (3.8)40
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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This was a fantastic reading. It's the story of a man who was haunted by an apple tree. The man's wife died a few moth ago. He is living on the countryside in a big house. A housekeeper and a gardener are the only persons who keep the everyday chores going. He didn't feel sad that his wife died. On the contrary he felt very happy to do what he wanted to do. In his big garden were several apple trees. One of them, which was the closest to the house, seemed to be dead since many years. There hadn't been any blossoms nor fruits in ages. Therefore he told the gardener to chop the tree down. The gardener wasn't compliant to fulfill the task because he discovered some blossoms and asked for giving the tree another chance. In fact the tree got more blossoms than any other of the apple trees and got also a load of fruits. Everybody loved the fruits but not the owner.
There were more incidents during the year which I won't write due to not spoil the outcome. It's a story which I can strongly recommend. It is fast-paced and very gripping. ( )
  Ameise1 | Mar 8, 2015 |
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) ( )
1 vote ElizaJane | Apr 15, 2014 |
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 |
I'm a big fan of Hitchcock's film 'The Birds', which I've seen more times than I can remember, and I'm also a fan of Daphne du Maurier's novels, but this is the first time I'd read the story on which Hitchcock's film is based. Apparently du Maurier disliked the film, particularly the change of locale from Cornwall to America. The short story is much more low-key than the film, very much starker, the bleak landscape providing the perfect backdrop to the horror of birds suddenly becoming hostile and attacking people.

The other stories in the book have the same theme of the ordinary and everyday suddenly seeming disturbing and even dangerous. 'Monte Verita' is the story of two friends and the beautiful but strange woman one of them marries. 'The Apple Tree' is a well-done tale of a man whose nagging, miserable wife dies leaving the man free. Except his freedom is short-lived. He becomes morbidly obsessed by one of the apple trees in his garden - it's as if his wife's sour presence haunts the apple tree, which bears freakishly profuse blossoms and apples that come off the tree rotten.

'The Little Photographer' features a rich, bored woman who idly begins an affair - not out of lust, but rather because she thinks it's the thing to do, and will make her life more interesting. Because she is the man's social superior, she thinks he will meekly accept her wish to end the affair - when he shows his stubborn, possessive side, she has no idea what to do.

In 'Kiss Me Again, Stranger', a young man is drawn to an usherette in his local cinema. He dreams of making her his girl, but when he tries to find her again he discovers that she's disappeared under disturbing circumstances.

The final story, 'The Old Man', is a subtle story about a man with a son who - unlike his daughters - just won't leave him alone.

Du Maurier's plain writing style is the perfect complement to these stories in which everyday things and people take a sudden sinister turn. [September 2006] ( )
  startingover | Feb 1, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

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"; 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); 

In 1953 in the US, Doubleday published the stories included in "The Apple Tree..." along with two additional stories ("The Split Second" and "No Motive") as the collection "Kiss Me Again, Stranger"
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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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