A collection of short stories that traverse the landscape of the absurd and the fantastical, The Birds and Other Stories is guaranteed to leave an indelible impression on you with the depths of the themes explored over the course of the 6 multi-genre stories.
After having read and loved Rebecca, I joined a book club to read all of Daphne du Maurier’s works. And so far, it hasn’t disappointed!
I didn’t know what to expect from this collection as I’m used to the author’s ornate writing style, which often sweeps across chapters with its establishment of the background and vivid nature imageries. What then would the author do with a limiting format like that of short stories?
The answer to this became apparent to me from the 2nd story in the collection – Monte Verita. While the premise intrigued me enough to continue reading, I soon realized that maybe Daphne du Maurier’s magic works when she unleashes her imagination in a novel structure. Because of the short span of time in which the context had to be introduced and the characters sent on a journey, I feel like the impact of Monte Verita fell short.
The sense of something unearthly existing in the mountains, building fear amongst the village folk is certainly palpable, and I found that to be very exciting. But then there was a time leap, and focus shifted to unnecessary aspects of the main characters’ whereabouts.
Even with stories like The Apple Tree, The Little Photographer, and Kiss Me Again, Stranger, the intrigue is constantly present, but I found that some or the other aspect of the writing would dampen my reading experience.
It is the titular story, The Birds, that takes the prize, and with good reason! The plot is mindboggling, its execution so incredibly convincing that you can’t help but read on in horror as the events come to pass and the characters are left to fend for themselves. The apocalyptical feel of the story is something I’d never forget.
Even though I wasn’t super engaged while reading this collection, there were ample instances of Daphne du Maurier’s unparalleled talent that I would marvel at it.
I would’ve loved for The Little Stranger to have been a full-fledged novel. It is well-paced and has that perfect holiday vibe. The main characters also bring a lot to the story in terms of their own motivations and personality.
On the whole, I’m glad that I picked up this collection. It just left me wanting more out of the stories.
If you’ve never read anything by Daphne du Maurier, I wouldn’t recommend that you start with this one because I wouldn’t want you to form an opinion about her writing based on this alone (she has so much more to offer!). Perhaps check out Rebecca before you come back to this.