When I finished reading The Rendezvous and Other Stories I had absolutely no hesitation in giving it 5 stars – I loved it. This is most unusual for me as generally I’m not too keen on short stories because they often leave me feeling dissatisfied, thinking they are lacking in substance or characterisation. Not so with this book, even though some of the endings were predictable and some of the stories are very short I think they all worked well!
Daphne du Maurier wrote some of these stories before she wrote her first novel (The Loving Spirit, 1931), when she under 23, and the rest between 1937 and 1947, when she was a well established writer. The earlier stories are shorter than the later ones as they were written for magazines
There are 14 stories:
- No Motive ~ this begins with the suicide of an apparently happy woman expecting her first child. Her husband desperate to discover what could have caused her to take her own life and that of their unborn child employs a private detective to investigate. What he discovers is just so sad and tragic.
- Panic ~ This is one of the shorter stories about a casual love affair that ends in death and the panic that ensued.
- The Supreme Artist ~ Another shorter story of an aging actor trying to fight off the years.
- Adieu Sagesse ~ I loved this one about a hen-pecked husband who plans to escape his tedious life and have an adventure.
- Fairy Tale ~ A gambler and his long-suffering wife face destitution – unless he wins the lottery!
- The Rendezvous ~ Now this story really caught my imagination. It’s the story of an ageing writer, who meets a fan of his books whilst on a trip to Switzerland to lecture about his work. As in some of Du Maurier’s books this is about an unequal relationship and the exploitation of one of the partners. It is vividly written, the sense of disappointment, the misunderstandings and subsequent let down is brilliant.
- La Sainte-Vierge ~ A very short and predictable story about a naive young wife.
- Leading Lady ~ a beautiful actress manipulates the men around her.
- Escort ~ Another of the really good stories, full of atmosphere set in set in World War II on board a merchant ship as it sails across the North Sea. Just what is the ship that offers to escort it as a submarine threatens – and who is its captain?
- The Lover ~ More sexual manipulation, this time by a young man.
- The Closing Door ~ A young man is told of his terminal illness and the devastating effect it will have on his life.
- Indiscretion ~ An amusing tale of what happens when you say something without knowing the consequences – a bit signalled but still enjoyable.
- Angels and Archangels ~ A bitter and cynical look at religion and hypocrisy.
- Split Second ~ A brilliant story to finish the book – about a woman who leaves her highly organised house for a walk and finds everything has changed when she returns.
This is one of a set of Du Maurier’s books that I bought at least seven years ago. It was well worth the wait! I still have one more of the set to read – I’ll Never Be Young Again, her second novel. And there are more that I don’t own to enjoy in the future too.