Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier

Written by Sam Taylor (trans.) Tatiana de Rosnay
Review by Helene Williams

Tatiana de Rosnay’s fascination with du Maurier shines through in this novel-like biography. Sections of the book are organized by place—London, France, Cornwall—and de Rosnay begins each segment with a description of visiting that spot: houses where du Maurier lived, streets she walked, people she knew. The common theme is that access to these places, especially Menabilly, du Maurier’s beloved home in Cornwall for a quarter century, is difficult if not impossible. That holds true for quite a bit of du Maurier’s life, as well. She was a steady diarist until her marriage to Frederick “Tommy” Browning in July 1932, and after that first-hand information is slim. This leads to uneven coverage of events or fanciful speculation, which can be awkward. Years of du Maurier dealing with Tommy’s alcoholism and fading health are given short shrift, whereas her writing hut is given undue attention in comparison. The strongest segments are those covering du Maurier’s early years and her work on Rebecca, though the book is an enjoyable read in its entirety.