The Birds and Other Stories

(No Series)

A classic of alienation and horror, The Birds was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of 'Monte Verità' promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd . . .

One may assume an anthology with six mere stories would be a little short or lacking, but since she leans towards longer anthology pieces, it works out well for the length. I was excited to read this, especially being such a fan of Rebecca and Daphne du Maurier's gothic ambience. Simply must find more of her stuff, and soon.

The Birds ended up a great story that doesn't disappoint. True to the word of other reviewers, it is much different than the film, but while I loved the detailed movie story, this one works well too. It's a pretty short story as far as her others go, and focuses on a man who is trying to take care of his wife and two children during the birdpocalypse. He is the first one who notices things amiss, and one of the only in town who takes the thing as seriously as it should be taken when the first bird strikes. No goriness, but there is a creepiness in this story that is missing from the motion picture.

Great gets me thinking too that if birds did start attacking like that, we would be screwed. As Nat himself thinks, what can man do? Planes were tried and wrecked as the birds and gulls mass suicide into the things, the glass windows, the engines. Navy and the water wars would be effective only against the gulls and sea birds if they stayed put. Ultimately people would have to be poisoned or blundered for immediate action to take place, which is obviously counter-productive anyway. 4/5

She wrote Monte Verita beautifully - du Maurier has the perfect gothic touch in her writing, and so her lyrical prose complimented this unusually fantasy-rich story well. The story was creatively structured with a bittersweet ending. A mountain group (cult?) blessed by immortality - or is that only in their heads and we are all fools after all? Unfortunately it only worked so far because it was too bloody long - shorten it by half and it would have been another star earned. 2.5/5

'The Apple Tree' - loved it. At first it seemed like bizarre humor - and it is funny. But then it turned bleak - and it is bleak. It has moral message. I wobble between just seeing him as a selfish man who did not appreciate what he had, to a woman who brought down the life and spirit. Really it's a combination of both. At times funny, but mainly just sad, it's a creative, artsy, long story. Excellent and just different. Ties with 'The Birds' as a favorite - while the famous story is creepier and exciting, The Apple Tree has a slower pace that works because it is sobering, deep, and unusual. 4/5

'The Little Photographer' was actually crappy. Despite DuMaurier's stunning writing style, the plot turned out to be as shallow as the main character. At first it was intriguing, held promise, but the end ruined all, especially when I started hated the main. Felt bad for the photographer. At least karma visited at the end. 2/5

I dug "Kiss me again, Stranger." At the cemetery I started thinking it would have a paranormal jibe. A little slow on the start but it was worth continuing. The ending isn't fabulous or anything, but it was an enjoyable enough story. 3/5

'The Old Man' idea what to think of this story. I suppose 2.5/5. I don't fully get it. At least it's short. The narrator was definitely a nosy soul.

As you can see, mixed ratings. Even the stories I stamped a 2 star on were enjoyable on levels to read because her writing is just that awesome. I didn't hate any of these. The anthology shines too because it showcases her writing talent by dishing out samples of such different stories. The plots, story tone, and characters are all individuals.

I recommend hunting this down, it's worth it.

   Book Quotes:

“When she smiled it was as though she embraced the world.”


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