Skip to main content

Review: Castle Dor, by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and Daphne Du Maurier


Pages: 274
Original date of publication: 1961
My copy: 2004 (Virago Modern Classics)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: The Strand, NYC, July 2011

Castle Dor was the last unfinished work of the critic Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and finished (at his daughter’s request) by Daphne Du Maurier after his death. The novel is a modern retelling of the Tristan and Isolde myth, re-set to Cornwall of the 1840s. Linnet Lewarne is a young woman married to an innkeeper; she strikes up a relationship with a Briton onion seller named Amyot Trestane. Although not written from the first person point of view, the center viewpoint is that of the village doctor, who recognizes how history is repeating itself, literally.

Du Maurier did a fairly good job of finishing the novel—you can’t tell where Quiller-Couch’s writing leaves off and Du Maurier’s begins. She later wrote that she could never hope to imitate Quiller-Couch’s style of writing, but that she tried to adopt his “modd;” still, this wasn’t one of the best books that she’s put her pen to. Because the story is told from an “outside” point of view, we don’t really get that of the main two characters, so it’s hard to assess their motives.

In fact, the main character of the book is Doctor Carfax, who, as Du Maurier put it, serves as a kind of Prospero, helping move the events of the novel along while not really being a part of them. One gets the sense that all of these characters are involved in something much larger than themselves, something much beyond their control, and there’s a fairly wonderful kind of atmosphere to that effect. Although I had some reservations about this novel, it’s interesting to see how two writers—one a critic of literature, the other considered a “romance” novelist—coincide, and how they were able to create one cohesive novel.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Invitation to the Waltz, by Rosamond Lehmann

Pages: 304Original date of publication: 1931My edition: Why I decided to read: I found this while looking on ebay for Virago Modern ClassicsHow I acquired my copy: bought secondhand on ebayInvitation to the Waltz is one of those coming-of-age-stories. Unlike, for example, The Crowded Street, which focuses on a young woman’s entire coming-of-age experience, Invitation to the Waltz focuses on just one moment in seventeen-year-old Olivia Curtis’s life: a coming-out ball, the seminal moment in the life of any girl of the period (approximately the 1920s). Olivia is neither the most beautiful nor the most vivacious girl at the party, and she’s apprehensive about the evening and all it entails. This is not one of those “high action” books, but it gives a lot of insight into the thoughts and feelings of a girl making the leap into adulthood. I think if I had read this book ten years ago, I would have completely identified with Olivia—she’s shy and retiring, and unsure of herself. Her dress is…

The Sunday Salon

What a crazy week this has been! My cousin, who’s ten, was in town for most of this past week, and since he’s high energy, it’s taken a lot of energy especially out of my mom, who also had to deal with my 87-year-old grandmother. Plus. my sister was in town for the weekend, so it’s been mostly crazy around here. All of my posts this past week have been scheduled; and I only got around to writing a bunch of outstanding reviews yesterday afternoon. It’s quieter here now that my mom has driven my sister back to New York, and I’ve spent much of today catching up on sleep and, of course, reading. Right now I’m reading one of my Virago Modern Classics: The Rising Tide, by Molly Keane (though it was originally published under her pseudonym MJ Farrell). I’m really loving it; the author really knew how to combine wonderful (sometimes exasperating) characters with a great plot. I’ve been cruising Ebay for more books by Molly Keane, since I’m living her writing style. This is easily one of the b…

Read in 2014

January:
1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
2. The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, by Tony Attwood
3. Mozart and the Whale, by Mary and Jerry Newport
4. Handling the Truth, by Beth Kephart
5. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
6. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
7. Them, by Joyce Carol Oates
8. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

February:
1. Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
2. I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
3. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
4. Twilight Sleep, by Edith Wharton
5. Twirling Naked in the Streets, by Jeannie Davide-Rivera
6. Hungry Hill, by Daphne Du Maurier
7. Me, Myself, and Why, by Jennifer Ouilette
8. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by DH Lawrence
9. The Wise Virgins, by Leonard Woolf

March:
1. Out With It, by Katherine Preston
2. Never Have I Ever, by Katie Heaney
3. Look me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison
4. Beyond, the Glass, by Antonia White
5. Atypical, by Jesse Saperstein
6. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Far…