Last night I dreamed I went to duMaurierLand again. (Sorry Daphne)
Let me explain. When I was younger and I might dream of living the life of a writer, I’d create for myself a room with a desk by a French window, beyond which there would be green swathe running down toward the sea and there would be bracken and paths through stands of trees. Indoors, I would have a log fire and tea in a bone china cup and I’d probably be wearing something quite figure-hugging and pearl earrings. You see, dear reader, I read everything Daphne published. The lot. All the novels. All the collections of short stories. I keep by my desk an old copy of Rebecca and every day, before I begin, I look at it. Sometimes, I pick it up and sniff it.
There’s nothing like the smell of a good book. Kindles can’t do that. They can’t reproduce the touchy-feely thing about holding a favourite book in your hands. It would be sacrilege to read Rebecca on an e-reader. Wouldn’t it? Would I experience the same sense of connection with the woman who has inspired me for years?
Can you curl up with a Kindle?
Rebecca is my talisman. I keep it by my side to remind me of the power of characters. In du Maurier’s Rebecca there’s a character so powerful she controls everything even after she’s dead. Rebecca, who Mrs Danvers adored, still occupies the thoughts and actions of the de Winter household to the extent that poor second Mrs de Winter doesn’t even get a first name all through the entire novel.
That’s power.That’s character. And yet . . . and yet.
I’m writing in the twenty first century. I might have a desk now AND a French window, ( I live in France; everybody has French windows) but Manderley it isn’t. My characters don’t wear pearls and dress for dinner.
My main character in Trobairitz drives a truck. This is where she spends most of her time.
She hasn’t worn a skirt for years. She stuffs her hair under a baker boy cap when she’s driving and it’s so long since she had any fun with a man, she wonders if all her bits still work.
Daphne, as far as I remember, didn’t write about women’s bits or have a character admire the way a man fills his tee shirt.
But, if I can get my characters onto a page , whether on paper or a backlit screen, and readers remember them long afterwards, the way I remember Rebecca, I’ll be in du MaurierLand.