πŸ“– The Birds & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier β­β­β­

The Birds & Other StoriesIf you didn’t know, this has been Ali’s Daphne du Maurier Reading Week 2021!Β For which I decided to re-read The Birds & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier, which I read many moons ago now, in fact it might have been my very first du Maurier read, so it was definitely high-time for a revisit.

The Birds & Other StoriesΒ is a collection of six chilling stories, that was first published in 1952 under the title The Apple TreeΒ and later renamed when it was republished in 2004; to link-in, I imagine, with the popularity of Hitchcock’s celebrated 1963 film. While each story is very different from the others, they do all share an uncanny sense of dislocation and mock man’s perceived dominance over life and nature.

To kick things off we have the titular story of The Birds about a simple farmhand and his young family, as they are forced to batten down the hatches of their small cottage against murderous attacks by numberless flocks of crazed birds; all set on the coast of du Maurier’s beloved and picturesque Cornwall. A short horror of isolation and nature fighting back, which is definitely one of the best of the collection.

This is followed by the longest and, I’m afraid I feel, the weakest story of the collection: Monte VeritΓ , which tells of a mountain paradise, home to a secret sect, that lures young women away and promises truth, beauty and immortality, but at a terrible price; told through the eyes of a nameless mountaineer, whose best friend’s wife disappears on a climbing trip. A wonderfully creepy concept, but it is slow and lumbersome in pace and length.

Next up is the original, titular story of The Apple Tree, that follows the actions of a widower, who believes he is being haunted by his late, neglected wife in the form of an old, twisted apple tree in the garden. With an unreliable narrator and his ever more desperate behaviour, this is a frightfully taut tale of guilt, paranoia and dread.

Then du Maurier transports us to the sun-drenched French Mediterranean coast inΒ The Little Photographer, which gives us a glimpse of the life of a rich, beautiful Marquise, through the lens of a local, handsome photographer, who steps out from behind his camera into a torrid affair. This is like a mini-thriller and even though I knew what was coming, I was on the edge of my seat and wishing for the vain Marquise to get her comeuppance!

This is followed by another story of unrequited love in Kiss Me Again, Stranger, that relates an eerie episode in which a shy mechanic has a date with a pretty cinema usherette in a cemetery – only later does he discover the terrible truth about her and what a close shave he might have had! A sad and haunting little tale.

Finally, last but certainly not least, we have the story ofΒ The Old Man, which chronicles a family history as told by a neighbour who suspects the jealous father of finding a murderous remedy when three’s a crowd. This is a terribly sad tale with a mind-blowing twist at the end, that you’ll never see coming! And for that reason this is also one of the best of the collection.

All in all, I was thoroughly engrossed with my re-read of The Birds & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier – I had forgotten what a terrific collection of short scary stories this was, all with du Maurier’s stunning description of place and trademark modern Gothic style.Β Great read ⭐⭐⭐

(I re-read this as part of the Daphne du Maurier Reading Week 2021)

Now over to you: What do you think? Have you read this? Did you read anything by Daphne du Maurier for this week? Any other short story collections your would recommend?

18 thoughts on “πŸ“– The Birds & Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier β­β­β­

  1. The Apple Tree is my favourite from this collection, though The Birds and The Old Man came close too. I think I prefer her short stories to her novels on the whole, with the exception of Rebecca.

    1. Great to hear you enjoyed this collection and others of du Maurier’s, FF. While I didn’t pick it myself, I can definitely see why The Apple Tree is your favourite and why it was the original title for the collection. πŸ™‚

  2. Glad you enjoyed this collection Jessica. Thank you for joining in with Daphne du Maurier reading week. The Birds was definitely the most memorable story for me, so atmospheric, suffused with horror, I loved it.

  3. I loved this collection too and would like to read it again one day. The twist in The Old Man is so clever and unexpected!

  4. I never knew that Bords was written by Daphne! I enjoyed the movie but would like to also check the book. So far I read Rebecca and My cousin Rachel and enjoyed them.

    1. Nastassja, Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel are two of my favourites of du Maurier’s novels and I hope you will have a chance to check out this collection soon. πŸ˜ƒ

  5. I take it that Hitchcock’s movie The Birds was inspired by that story. That was the scariest movie I’ve ever seen so there’s NO way I’m going to read that story!

  6. Your review has me really wanting to read this collection, so I’m pleased to find it’s available through my digital library.

    The British Library has been releasing some wonderful anthologies of classic science fiction short stories recently. I’ve really enjoyed those I’ve read.

    1. Kelly, I am really pleased to hear your able to digital copy of this through your library and I hope it will be another another enjoyable anthology for you. πŸ™‚

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