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The Rendezvous and Other Stories by Daphne…

The Rendezvous and Other Stories (1980)

by Daphne du Maurier

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The blurb tells us that the "fourteen haunting stories collected here span the whole of Daphne du Maurier's writing career", when in fact Minette Walters in the Introduction to this selection of short stories informs us that all but several were written before 1931, when du Maurier published her first novel, and the rest between 1937 and 1947, when she was in her thirties, so all of them can be considered to be written fairly on in her career.

I have to admit that I didn't get on with the stories at all: all but one have at its heart weak or unlikeable characters (sometimes both), and to me they felt on the whole contrived, predictable, and often lacking in tension, atmosphere and genuine surprises, with only occasionally a well-aimed stab at small-mindedness, pettiness, hypocrisy, class snobbery and prejudice; these stabs are the more effective because they are understated, and not spelled out in capital letters as are some of the climaxes. (I guess this is where her relative inexperience is most noticeable, as if she didn't trust herself to spell out the conclusion clearly enough or the reader to draw the obvious parallels.) The stories I liked the most were "The Escort", which is more mature and atmospheric than the others and a complete thematic departure (told in the first person, with a nautical theme during war-time) from the rest of the collection, along with "Split Second", which is atmospheric and intriguing and held my interest, with the protagonist's emotional turmoil portrayed very effectively, even though it was to a degree predictable and not entirely convincing.

Minette Walters praises the collection because in her opinion they already show immense maturity for someone so young; I don't agree. In the Introduction, Daphne du Maurier is quoted as saying that the early ones (i.e. short stories) especially showed something of her development as a writer; as this they may be of interest, but I think I prefer her later work. ( )
  passion4reading | Aug 21, 2015 |
Even when she wasn't writing at her best, Daphne du Maurier's stories are well-crafted and compelling. These aren't her most fascinating sets of scenarios and protagonists, but they're all well done. She had an amazing way of seeing how the world/people worked, even from the very early stories of her career, which some of these are.

I'm also impressed by her ability to mimic any genre, yet write as always in her own very recognisable style. ( )
  shanaqui | Jun 24, 2013 |
In the Preface, the author briefly explains her inspirations, and mentions that these stories show her development as a writer. I think a nice addition to this collection would have been dates of writing or of original publication; this would have added much to my own enjoyment as a long-time Daphne du Maurier reader.


Some excellent, some not so much in this 1980 collection of short stories from throughout the author’s long career. All are very well written; the “less excellent” ones are described as such only in comparison to this author’s absolutely brilliant “best”.
No Motive ~ Why would a sweet-natured, happily married, expectant mother fatally shoot herself ten minutes after cheerfully ordering new garden furniture? One of the longer stories in this collection, and nicely plotted out.
Panic ~ A casual love affair goes terribly wrong. Fabulously atmospheric, but ultimately slight. The dénouement comes as no surprise.
The Supreme Artist ~ An aging actor gives a most superb performance off stage, and comes abruptly to an intimation of his own mortality.
Adieu Sagesse ~ Two men from the opposite ends of the social spectrum plot their escape from tedious lives. Loved this one; the right people “win”.
Fairy Tale ~ A slight and unlikely snippet of a story of a ne’er-do-well husband and his adoring wife. “Fairy tale”, indeed!
The Rendezvous ~ I expected much from the title story of this collection. A successful author who has spent his life in observation finally arranges an “experience” for himself, only to be disappointed at every turn. In general, well done. But I wanted something just a little bit more.
La Sainte-Vierge ~ Innocence and corruption. A snippet of a story, but very evocative of both.
Leading Lady ~ Cherchez la femme… Another theatrical setting. Daphne used her eyes and ears well when about the backstage world.
Escort ~ A maritime ghost story set in World War II. It’s been done before, but this attempt is reasonably decent. Nice detail on board the ghost ship.
The Lover ~ A damning portrait of a rather vicious “lady’s man”. Didn’t really go anywhere as a story.
The Closing Door ~ A young man faces up to a dire diagnosis. His lover unknowingly twists the knife. No shortage of symbolic situation in this one; I suspect it is one of the earlier efforts of the author.
Indiscretion ~ Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Three lives are changed by a single sentence. A mite too contrived for my full enjoyment.
Angels and Archangels ~ Religion and hypocrisy. The hypocrites win. A bitter little tale.
Split Second ~ This story is the definite high point of the book. A middle-aged woman goes out for a walk, and comes away from a brush with death to a very different world. Or does she? Brutally pathetic, and perfectly written. ( )
  leavesandpages | Jun 19, 2013 |
The Rendezvous and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by Daphne du Maurier. Some of them are among the earliest examples of her writing and most of them, as you would expect if you've ever read any of du Maurier's work before, are slightly disturbing and unsettling. She takes some quite ordinary situations and ordinary, flawed people, and adds undertones of suspense and drama.

Many of the stories are just 10-20 pages long - perfect if you don't have a lot of time, although in most cases I would have preferred them to be longer and more developed. My favourite story from the collection was No Motive, in which a private detective investigates an apparently motiveless suicide. I felt it could easily have been expanded into a full length detective novel, though it worked well as a short story too. The other one that really stood out for me was Split Second, in which a woman goes out for a walk one afternoon and returns home to find strangers living in her house. This story had a touch of the supernatural about it, as did Escort, which describes a ship leaving port during World War II and being rescued from a submarine attack by a mysterious sailing ship.

I liked the three stories I've just mentioned, as well as The Closing Door and La Sainte-Vierge, but there were too many of the others that I just didn't enjoy very much. However, it was still interesting to read them and see how good Daphne du Maurier's writing was even in the early stages of her career. ( )
  helen295 | Dec 8, 2009 |
Includes The Rendezvous, Adieu Sagesse and Fairy Tale, three I picked because they are so different. She has a way of finding the ordinary cruelties and shortcomings of ordinary people and hinging her uncomfortable and disturbing stories on these imperfections. ( )
  Greatrakes | May 17, 2009 |
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Mary Farren went into the gun room one morning about half-past eleven, took her husband's revolver and loaded it, then shot herself. (No Motive)
One of the reasons I'm such a fan of Daphne du Maurier is that her stories are never comfortable. (Introduction)
The last chapter in my book of memoirs, Growing Pains, is entitled 'Apprenticeship'; the sub-title of the book itself, The Shaping of a Writer. (Preface)
The glory of St Swithin's was no more. The famous church in Mayfair, whose incense-laden atmosphere had caused strong hunting peers to weep with emotion, and whose soulful organ and sweet-voiced choir-boys against a background of glittering candles had brought the gayest revue actress to her knees, was now given up to a sordid crowd of slum-dwellers from Whitechapel who did not even know the meaning of genuflexion.

(Angels and Archangels, pp. 211–12)
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Book description
The fourteen haunting stories collected here span the whole of Daphne du Maurier's writing career and explore every human emotion: an apparently happily married woman commits suicide; a steamer in wartime is rescued by a mysterious sailing-ship; a dull husband breaks loose in a surprising fashion; a con girl plays her game once too often; and a famous novelist looks for romance, only to meet with bitter disappointment. Each meticulously observed tale shows du Maurier's mastery of the genre and provides pleasure for a variety of moods.

Contains the following short stories, with an Introduction by Minette Walters and a Preface by Daphne du Maurier:
No Motive, Panic, The Supreme Artist, Adieu Sagesse, Fairy Tale, The Rendezvous, La Sainte-Vierge, Leading Lady, Escort, The Lover, The Closing Door, Indiscretion, Angels and Archangels, Split Second
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A selection of
short stories written early
in author's career.

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Haunting collection of short stories.

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