Wednesday, 18 August 2010
The Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier
Every writer has to start somewhere. Daphne Du Murier was just 24 years old when she published her first novel; The Loving Spirit. Du Maurier obviously decided to jump right in at the deep end for her first literary achievement and while I liked the idea of the book, I thought it was incredibly ambitious and unfortunately I’m not sure Du Murier was able to pull it off.
The book is spilt into four parts and each part is told from the point of view of a different generation of the Coombe family starting with Janet Coombe. The narration is then passed over to her son Joseph, to his son Christopher and then finally Christopher’s daughter Jennifer completes the book. I thought this was a great idea as the reader got to see not only the changes in the family within each passing generation, but also the changes in the world around them. The book starts in the mid 19th century and ends during the 1920s when enormous changes throughout the world took place both socially and on an individual level with old fashioned attitudes dying out.
Unfortunately one of the main downfalls of this book is its size (or lack of.) The Book is only 400 pages long which means that each narrator only gets around 100 pages each to tell their entire life story from beginning to end. This means that the book feels very rushed. For example by page 24, Janet Coombe has given a brief outline of her childhood, fell in love with her cousin, married him and had her first child. Because of the rushed nature it also means that commentary on the world around them is only briefly mentioned in passing and is barely given any notice giving the impression that the last narrator is very much living in the same world as the first narrator.
There are some flashes of brilliance and some very good ideas contained here but unfortunately any point that Du Murier was hoping to make gets lost within the undeveloped family saga plot.
Would I recommend it? One for Du Maurier fans who are curious to read her first novel only.
Posted by Jess