Frequent followers of my blog will know that I’m a huge fan of Daphne Du Maurier’s; indeed it was reading Rebecca that began my quest to read the Top 100 BBC Reads. And despite the growing piles of books in my fireplace, the additional shelves I’ve had to use to house them, and the fact that I have books at both my mother’s and my father’s house, at the top of my wish list every Christmas is more books.
Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier was just one of a number of books I received for Christmas. This particular edition is part of the Penguin Decades series, a really beautifully presented collection with covers designed by Zandra Rhodes, making it something of a keepsake. I had heard of Don’t Look Now on account of the 1973 film starring Julie Christie and was aware of its sinister tone. On the whole, I don’t tend to read short stories; other than those I read on my university or school syllabus, it’s not a genre I would personally indulge in. However, with it being a new year, and trying to remain in the habit of pushing myself in terms of what I read, I decided that Don’t Look Now was as safe a bet as any.
The backdrop to the tale is Venice, a change from the coasts of Cornwall, but equally as atmospheric. The tale follows John and Laura, a married couple who are holidaying in Venice following the death of their daughter. During their time away they get lost amongst Venice’s many side streets and canals and the grieving couple have a chance encounter with two sisters one evening. One of the sisters is blind but apparently gifted with second sight and she claims to have seen their dead daughter, meaning that any chance of putting their ghosts to rest is quickly forgotten. What follows is a string of sinister events set against the rain-shrouded landscape of Venice into which a small figure in red enters, whose seeming innocence forms the backbone of the timely twist in this haunting tale.
A captivating, clever read, Don’t Look Now is yet further evidence of Du Maurier’s prowess as one of the finest story tellers. The only thing I took umbrage with was that the tale ended far too soon.