Her Pictorial Memoir
Du Maurier's final book (she died last April) is both a personal memoir and a love letter to Cornwall, which served as inspiration for--and setting of--much of her popular fiction (Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, etc.). In 1926, teen-aged Daphne and her mother and sisters took their first extended visit to the region, buying as odd Alpine-style house overlooking Fowey harbor. Daphne befriended the locals, watched ships come and go in the harbor, and drank tea with sailors. On a walk up the river, she found the hulk of an abandoned schooner, the Jane Slade: her musings about its history became the core of her first novel, The Loving Spirit. An army major who loved the book headed to Cornwall to meet its author: within months of their first date--a spray-drenched outing on his launch--they were engaged. Years passed, du Maurier's atmospheric novels became popular favorites, she continued to explore. One of her favorite walk destinations was an ancient, now empty house, set deep in the woods and surrounded by scarlet rhododendrons, which would serve as the model for Manderley, the great house in Rebecca Here, Du Maurier writes of all this with passion: it was in Cornwall, she says, that "I found myself both as a writer and a person." And she intersperses reminiscences with brief excerpts from her novels--some of which stand on their own, some of which don't. Although the text is probably of interest mostly to hard-core fans, more than a hundred truly gorgeous photographs broaden the appeal: prospective travelers will find itinerary inspiration, and anyone who loves the outdoors may relish a quick browse through the misty moors, seascapes, and woods of this wild and peaceful region.