The Doll in The Guardian this weekend! I read it last night and, as always, du Maurier amazes me.
The Doll starts off as a paper written by a doctor who found a mysterious diary washed up on the shore. Some of the book is illegible and the author unknown. Inside the sodden pages is a story of obsession and sexual perversity. The author is a man who becomes obsessed with Rebecca*, a beautiful but evasive violinist. He is captivated by her playing but when he is with her becomes increasingly frustrated with her aloof manner. One night in a fit of unexpected passion, she reveals to him 'Julio', a life-sized mechanical doll. He's completely freaked out by it:
His face was the most evil thing I have ever seen. It was ashen pale in colour, and the mouth was a crimson gash, sensual and depraved. The nose was thin, with curved nostrils, and the eyes were cruel, gleaming and narrow, and curiously still. They seemed to stare right through one – the eyes of a hawk. The hair was sleek and dark, brushed right back from the white forehead.Um yeah, that sounds like one creepy doll. She doesn't explain to him why she has it and why she is so attached to the thing. He goes away with a bad case of the heebie-jeebies. Still, he can't shake his obsession for her and breaks into her apartment only to find her in a compromising position.
You got to wonder what was in the mind of Daphne. How weird is this story?! A woman incapable of loving a human being chooses to love a cold, sneering doll. It's so messed up! Yet, it's brilliant. Du Maurier lets the reader know exactly what is going on between Julio and Rebecca without going into the gory details. I can see how this would have made folks back in the day uncomfortable. But why is Rebecca the way she is? What has happened to her to make her loathe men? And why the doll? Daphne leaves the reader with more questions than answers. Then there is the diarist. What does he see in Rebecca that is so attractive? Is it her talent or her independence that drives him wild?
I enjoyed the literary device of the ruined diary. It allows her to be brief and mysterious. With the gaps in the narrative, the reader has to figure a few things out for themselves. Some of it is a bit over the top dramatic but she makes up for it with her brilliant writing.
Why don't you read it yourself and tell me what you think?