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5 Must-Read Books by Daphne du Maurier: The Ultimate List

We recommend starting with one of these five great books.

Last Updated on April 19, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

5 Must-Read Books by Daphne du Maurier Where to Start Reading

If you’re looking for your next great read, Daphne du Maurier is a fantastic author to explore.  She has written many novels, short stories, and plays over the years – so where do you start?  We’ve put together a list of five must-read books by Daphne du Maurier to help get you started.  Whether you’re a fan of suspenseful thrillers or historical fiction, there’s something for everyone in her repertoire.  So please keep reading to learn more about Daphne du Maurier and her fantastic work!

About Daphne du Maurier

First, who is Daphne du Maurier?

Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907 into a family of successful writers and actors.  Her grandfather was the famed artist and writer Sir George du Maurier, her father Gerald du Maurier was a famous actor-manager and her mother Muriel Beaumont was an actress.  Daphne began writing at a young age, and her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published when she was just 22 years old.  Throughout her career, Daphne wrote many books, short stories, and plays – some of which were adapted into films or stage productions.  Many of Daphne’s works are set in Cornwall, where she lived for much of her life with her husband, Major General Frederick Browning.

What is Daphne du Maurier famous for?

Daphne du Maurier is famous for her richly imaginative and atmospheric novels and short stories, many of which have become classics. Among her most celebrated works is the novel “Rebecca,” a gothic suspense story that was a phenomenal success and has never gone out of print since its initial publication in 1938. The book was also turned into an Academy Award-winning film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Other notable works include “My Cousin Rachel,” “Jamaica Inn,” and “The Birds,” the latter of which was also adapted into a renowned film by Hitchcock. Her ability to create palpable suspense and her evocative descriptions of the Cornish coast – where many of her stories are set – have secured her a lasting place in the pantheon of great British authors.

What did Daphne du Maurier think of Rebecca?

Daphne du Maurier had complex feelings about “Rebecca,” her most famous work. Initially, she was surprised by the massive success of the novel and was grateful that it secured her financial independence. However, she later felt pigeonholed by the book’s popularity, fearing it overshadowed her other works. In her personal correspondence, she expressed concerns that “Rebecca” was considered a “romantic” novel, a genre she did not identify with. She once said, “It’s a bit of a shock to find that the critics sometimes think that you have a style and a message of your own, and therefore, in their opinion, a sort of integrity.” Despite her ambivalent feelings, “Rebecca” remains a testament to du Maurier’s storytelling prowess.

Did Daphne du Maurier have a relationship with her father?

Daphne du Maurier had a complicated relationship with her father, Gerald du Maurier. He was absent for much of her childhood due to his acting commitments and their relationship was strained when he returned home. Daphne often felt overshadowed by her father’s success and struggled to gain his approval as a writer. However, they did share a love for writing and theater, and Daphne acknowledged his impact on her craft. In fact, her novel “The Parasites” is loosely based on the dynamics of their family.

About Daphne du Maurier Books

What is Daphne du Maurier’s best known book?

Daphne du Maurier’s best-known book is undoubtedly “Rebecca.” First published in 1938, this gothic novel is a masterful blend of romance, suspense, and psychological drama. The story’s enduring popularity is evident in its continual print status and the numerous adaptations it has inspired, including an Academy Award-winning film by Alfred Hitchcock, a popular Netflix adaptation, and several stage plays. It is du Maurier’s magnum opus, showcasing her remarkable storytelling abilities and the atmospheric, suspenseful style that characterizes much of her work.

Why is the book Rebecca so famous?

“Rebecca” gained immense popularity due to its compelling plot, complex characters, and the masterful suspense created by Daphne du Maurier. The novel’s intriguing blend of romance, mystery, and psychological drama, set against the haunting backdrop of Manderley, captured readers’ imaginations and kept them on the edge of their seats. The story unfolds from the perspective of the unnamed second Mrs. de Winter, whose growing obsession with her husband’s deceased first wife, Rebecca, drives the narrative. The book’s enduring appeal is also attributed to its timeless themes of identity, jealousy, and the enduring impact of the past. Furthermore, “Rebecca” achieved pop culture significance through its successful adaptations, most notably Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar-winning 1940 film and the recent Netflix remake.

What age is the book Rebecca for?

“Rebecca” is typically suited to readers of high school age and above, or approximately 14 years and older. The complex themes of identity, jealousy, and the lingering impact of the past, along with the psychological suspense, make it more appropriate for mature teen and adult readers. However, as with any book, the suitability depends on the individual reader’s maturity, reading level, and personal interests.

What is the best Daphne du Maurier book to start with?

If you’re new to Daphne du Maurier’s work and wondering where to start reading, a great place would be “Rebecca.” As her most famous and acclaimed novel, it is likely the one that first captured your attention. If not, then my next pick would be “My Cousin Rachel” because it highlights du Maurier’s skill at building tension and suspense. Other great options include “Jamaica Inn,” which showcases her mastery of setting, and “Frenchman’s Creek,” a swashbuckling love story set against the backdrop of 17th-century Cornwall. Ultimately, all of du Maurier’s works are worth reading, so don’t limit yourself to just one!

5 Must-Read Books by Daphne du Maurier

Now that you know a little bit about Daphne du Maurier and her writing, let’s talk more about these five must-read books:

  • Rebecca
  • My Cousin Rachel
  • Jamaica Inn
  • The Birds and Other Stories
  • Frenchman’s Creek
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier’s most well-known novel is Rebecca.  This gothic mystery tells the story of a young woman who becomes the second wife of a wealthy man.  She moves with him to his estate in Cornwall only to find that the house is still haunted by the memory of his first wife, who died under mysterious circumstances.  Rebecca is a suspenseful and atmospheric read that you won’t be able to put down, and it has influenced and inspired many contemporary thriller and suspense novels.

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My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

If you’re in the mood for a historical fiction novel, My Cousin Rachel is a great choice.  The story follows Philip Ashley, who believes his cousin Rachel killed his beloved guardian Ambrose and married him for his fortune.  So he sets out to take revenge on her, but things take an unexpected turn as he gets to know Rachel better.  First, he begins to question whether she is guilty and then falls in love with her.  My cousin Rachel is a complex and intriguing read that keeps you guessing until the end.

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Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

If you’re looking for a spine-tingling read, Jamaica Inn is perfect for you.  This gothic novel tells the story of Mary Yellan, who moves to Cornwall to live with her uncle after her mother’s death.  Once there, she discovers that her uncle is involved in a smuggling ring, and things take a dark turn.  With its suspenseful plot and gothic setting, Jamaica Inn is sure to keep you entertained from beginning to end.

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The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

If you’re looking for a quick read, this collection of short stories is perfect for you.  The Birds includes the title story, which was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film by Alfred Hitchcock, as well as nine other stories.  These stories range in genre, from ghost stories to suspenseful thrillers, so there’s something for everyone.

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Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier

This historical fiction novel tells the story of Lady Dona St. Columb, who is bored with her life in London and decides to move to Cornwall.  There, she meets a dashing French pirate and becomes embroiled in a dangerous adventure.  With its suspenseful plot and engaging characters, Frenchman’s Creek is a thrilling read sure to transport you back in time and keep you entertained.

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What do you think about these Daphne du Maurier books?

Have you read any Daphne du Maurier books?  Are any of these books or her other works on your TBR?   What du Maurier books are your favorite?  What books would you add to this list?  Let us talk all about Daphne du Maurier in the comments below.

MORE READING:

The Best Books by Daphne du Maurier

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  1. Joy Isley says:

    One of my favorite du Maurier books is The Scapegoat

    • Hi Joy, thank you so much for sharing! It’s always hard putting together these lists especially when it’s for an author was writes brilliant books. I too love The Scapegoat, so it’s nice knowing someone else does too. Happy reading!

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