Short Story Review: The Doll

Ever since I heard the news that a long lost Daphne du Maurier story was being re-published, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. I was so excited to see 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?

*Another Rebecca!

Photo: Stock.xchng


  1. I will ordering this next month as the idea of it sounds brilliant. they interviewed her son about it on TV a few weeks back and he said he would have loved to ask her where the heck she go the idea for it LOL

  2. Only Du Maurier could pull something like this off without making it seem silly.

    Just reading your review reminded me of a time when my MIL collected creepy ass dolls. She didn't love them in the way this woman did, but she loved them in her own way. Everytime I visited I got creeped out by them. Thank God she doesn't have them anymore.

  3. mm, no creep for me.

    Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode with the creepy doll that tries to kill the step-father?

  4. Jessica- You got to wonder what she was thinking about.

    Ti- There are some creepy ass dolls out there for sure. They don't scare me as much as clowns though.

    Jill- I think I remember that one. There was a creepy fantasy island episode with a ventriloquist dummy that traumatized me.

  5. du Maurier and a creepy doll? I'm in.

  6. Thanks so much for the link to this story-I have bookmarked it to read soon and will return here upon completion of it to post comment-thanks again-


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