MYSELF WHEN YOUNG
Daphne du Maurier
Miss du Maurier, prolific author--of novels, travel books, biographies, short stories, plays--here indulges herself (her phrase) by writing out her "thoughts, impressions, and actions" from the age of three until the publication of her first novel, and her marriage, at twenty-five, in an engaging foreword, she hopes to encourage "young writers, as unsure of themselves as I once was, to try their hand." One wishes the book might have that effect, but there may be a generation and class gap impeding. After ali, Daphne, the second of a trio of engaging girls, was the daughter of the famous actor-producer Gerald du Maurier and the granddaughter of the author of those nearly forgotton novels, Trilby and Peter Ibbetson. She was a baby in an age of nannies and prams, and entered society in time to dance with that Prince of Wales who ended up as Duke of Windsor. A creative family, a warm matrix against which young Daphne was always rebelling. Her adolescent diaries show her as withdrawn, withdrawing, from the lively family circle, to read, write, and act out her fantasies of adventure, peril, escape--with an overturned chair for a man-o'-war, and her younger sister's friends as willing actors. In the second half of the book, she merely strings journal entries together; in the first, undocumented half, she does a brilliant job of rethinking, recreating, a child in her world. The moral? She is a better novelist than journal-keeper.