Every summer, when the doldrums of heat hit and I feel as wilted as the impatiens in my front porch planter, I think of a short story I studied in high school: August Heat by William Fryer Harvey. I re-read it every summer, as a reminder of why I fell in love with short stories.
Reading this story, you can feel the oppressive, brutal, maddening heat. You can understand the confusion of the two men—each an artist in his field—who discover one another by happenstance. Or, is it happenstance? Or, fate? Or, the heat? Continue reading “August Heatwave Reading List”
For 40 days, I am choosing a book from my personal book shelves. It will be a book that is insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women. I will write why I think this book is a positive one and worth a read. This isn’t advertising for me or to promote any of my friends. It’s simply praise for good books.
Day 31, The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, Jamaica Inn, The Birds, The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte – Daphne du Maurier’s body of work is a testament to the prolific, hard-working, risk-taking author who wrote across the genres of suspense and romance, short stories and novels, and memoir and biography. Her novel Rebecca catapulted her career and reputation into fame, and like all stories, Rebecca had an origin. This collection of the three “Rebecca notebooks” plus 15 early short stories, plus 10 memoir pieces, plus 3 poems, is an overview of du Maurier’s creative risk-taking. In addition, each section includes an introduction with du Maurier’s retrospective views on writing each type. The pieces are varied and surprising, a peek into a mind that must have been brimming with story ideas and creative energy all all all the time.
The hook for the collection are the three “Rebecca notebooks” which include du Maurier’s original outline for the novel; the original epilogue; and a story that reveals how she discovered a home in the woodlands of Cornwall that became the inspiration for Manderley. In the introduction, she explains why she did not give the narrator of Rebecca a name. This section of the collection is short. The bulk of it is devoted to her short stories and memoir pieces, each with an introduction written by du Maurier with thoughts on her writing process and tidbits about her personal life.
Why is The Rebecca Notebook a good read for women? This collection was put together forty years after the publication of Rebecca, which enjoyed worldwide acclaim and changed du Maurier’s life. In this book, she shares what that was like while showing the original plans for the story. It feels like a shared secret, as if a writer in your critique group passed out a storyboard for a new idea. This is a glimpse into a creative mind and artist who knew what she did well but still seemed surprised when it worked out. It’s a gem for any writer and admirer.