“Don’t Look Now” by Daphne du Maurier

Read for: week 15 of Deal Me In 2015 – a short story reading challenge

Card drawn: Jack of Hearts

My source for the story: “The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Tales”

See my roster of Deal Me In stories here.

My other experience with Daphne du Maurier: I’ve read “Rebecca” of course (haven’t we all?🙂 ) and a lesser novel “The Flight of the Falcon” and have watched the movie adaptation of her short story, “The Birds.” She was a very prolific writer and I have admitted only scratched the surface of her work.

Don’t Look Now”

Have you ever noticed someone apparently staring at you? I mean someone you don’t even know? What is your reaction? Do you assume they are taken with your good looks or perhaps your sartorial splendor? Do you assume it’s an indicator of a romantic interest? Do you (guys) check and make sure you’re zipped up? Do you think they are being rude and consider starting a fight with them? Do you look behind you to see what they’re really staring at? Probably most of us have used one or more of these approaches at some point in our lives. This situation is what begins the story that I read for this week’s Deal Me In.

John and Laura are a young couple vacationing in Italy, and they encounter a “starer” – as John tips off his wife at the start of this tale by saying “Don’t look now, but there are a couple of old girls two tables away who are trying to hypnotise me.” Actually, the old girls are twins, one of whom is blind and doing the “staring.” It turns out she has “psychic powers” and can see the couple’s recently deceased daughter sitting with them. That’s enough for a great story right there, isn’t it?

Under the surface of the weirdness of the tale, however, is the ongoing stress of the couple trying to come to grips with their loss. John is constantly concerned with Laura and whether or not she is “getting over it” – at least to the degree possible after such a tragic loss. How they cope with this stress and John’s increasing anxiety of what impact this new element (meeting the twin sisters) will have on Laura’s recovery drive the rest of this weird and thrilling tale.

Sadly, an admittedly brief search I performed failed to find this story available anywhere on-line. I own it as part of the anthology, “The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories,” from which I have drawn frequenty for the past few years of the Deal Me In challenge. I highly recommend it.

What is your reading experience with Daphne du Maurier?  Were you aware (as I wasn’t until relatively recently) that she wrote the short story that the Hitchcock film, The Birds, was based upon?

Picture of Du Maurier and family from The Independent

16 Comments

  1. Dale said,

    April 13, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I did not know her connection to “The Birds”, but I know next to nothing about her. I haven’t even read “Rebecca”.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 22, 2015 at 7:37 am

      You’ll have to give her a try at some point, Dale.

      Like

  2. dastevensish said,

    April 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I haven’t read any of her novels (shame on me!), but she’s my favorite short story writer ever! If you ever get a chance, you should read “The Birds”–way creepier than the movie, imo.

    Like

  3. Paula Cappa said,

    April 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I love DuMaurier’s work. She can capture the mysterious in such a subtle way. I’ve read Rebecca three times. The House on the Strand is also another good one.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 22, 2015 at 7:38 am

      Thanks for the tip on The House on the Strand. I’m making a note of it.🙂

      Like

  4. tracybham said,

    April 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    This sounds like a very interesting story. I may have read Du Maurier when I was (much) younger, but can’t remember now and I should just read some of them, especially Rebecca. And the short stories. (And I had no idea about the short story that The Birds is based on. I will have to quiz my husband who is more of a film buff than I.)

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 22, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Rebecca is an pretty easy read, and you almost “have to” be familiar with it as it so often comes up in discussions about books.🙂

      Like

  5. Nancy said,

    April 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I have read Rebecca. My Cousin Rachel, Jamacia Inn, the Falcon you mentioned. I enjoy the books. I will have to check out the short stories!

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 22, 2015 at 7:39 am

      I wasn’t really aware of her short story “chops” until I first heard about her writing “The Birds” story. I enjoy her writing style.

      Like

  6. Lana B said,

    April 14, 2015 at 8:29 am

    This has been one of my favorite short stories, by far, and was excited as I, too, love the book Rebecca. I will have to read the short story the Birds as recommended by another reader above.

    Like

  7. April 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Well, this story just got bumped up the queue.🙂

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 22, 2015 at 7:40 am

      I saw you had it in your Readathon plans. Hope you enjoy it!

      Like

      • April 22, 2015 at 9:35 am

        It was most of the reason I decided to do short(er) stories for readathon. Now watch as I don’t get around to reading it on Saturday!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Jason M. said,

    April 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I’ve never actually read any DuMaurier. Which is a shame, because you make this story sound quite memorably creepy. I also had no idea she wrote the basis for the Hitchcock movie!

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 22, 2015 at 7:41 am

      You’ll have to try her at some point. She’s a short story “magician.”🙂

      Like


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