Celebrated novelist Daphne Du Maurier and her sisters, eclipsed by her fame, are revealed in all their surprising complexity in this riveting new biography.
The middle sister in a famous artistic dynasty, Daphne du Maurier is one of the master storytellers of our time, author of ‘Rebecca’, ‘Jamaica Inn’ and ‘My Cousin Rachel’, and short stories, ‘Don’t Look Now’ and the terrifying ‘The Birds’ among many. Her stories were made memorable by the iconic films they inspired, three of them classic Hitchcock chillers. But it was her sisters, writer Angela and artist Jeanne,who found the courage to defy the conventions that hampered Daphne’s emotional life.
In this group biography they are considered side by side, as they were in life, three sisters who grew up during the 20th century in the glamorous hothouse of a theatrical family dominated by a charismatic and powerful father. This family dynamic reveals the hidden world of the three sisters – Piffy, Bird & Bing, as they were known to each other – full of social non-conformity, love, rivalry and compulsive make-believe, their lives as psychologically complex as a Daphne du Maurier novel.
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Described by the Sunday Times as ‘one of our best biographers’, Jane Dunn writes about women and their relationships, and sisters in particular. Her books include a biography of the sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell and the bestseller ‘Elizabeth & Mary’, which looks at the lives of the cousin queens Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Bath with her husband the writer and linguist, Nicholas Ostler.Review:
‘Perceptive and exuberant ... a saga that is sparklingly re-told’ The Times
‘The fascination for readers is the different character and destiny of each sister, plus their relationships with one another and with the dynamics of the family romance – and few family romances have been more potent than that of the du Mauriers’ Spectator
‘Daphne is a compelling subject – passionate and cold, attractive and repellent ... Angela suffers, as she did in life ...from ... Daphne’s infinitely more intriguing saga’ Evening Standard
‘Meticulous, perceptive ... it is a sign of Jane Dunn’s generous professionalism that she accords the du Maurier girls the same respect that she gave Bloomsbury’s high priestesses in her acclaimed study of Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell’ Financial Times
‘Engaging ... this book’s strength lies in its account of a trio of lives developing during a period of class and gender upheaval, and the sisters’ response to social change’ Independent
‘Compelling ... sensitive and sympathetic ... loneliness is the thudding heart of Dunn’s book, about three pampered sisters who never quite overcame the handicap of not being boys’ Daily Telegraph
‘Intriguing and revelatory biography ... [of] complex and contradictory lives’ Scotsman
‘Jane Dunn specialises in female relationships, and she has found three splendid women for her new book ... Dunn writes with haunting delicacy ... and she evokes a long-lost England in which women felt deep passions and survived emotional hurricanes with amazing outward restraint’ Mail on Sunday
‘Dunn is excellent on the lesbian 1920s and 30s in London, with delicious detail’ Guardian
‘An original, well-researched and very readable book full of well-chosen details and perceptive observations. In the subject of rivalry between literary sisters Jane Dunn has found a little goldmine’ Literary Review
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