Ok so. Dick is the son of a famous author-slash-shitty father and, not having accomplished anything worthwhile by the ripe old age of maybe 21, Dick is on a bridge about to throw himself off when Jake happens by and is all, Don’t do that. Exciting! you think. And then on to page seven, where Jake and Dick go hire horses and ride through the mountains and the fjords for chapters and Jake tries to buck Dick up because Dick is sort of a whiner. Somewhere in there Dick sleeps with a girl and it is disappointing for everyone involved.
Jake exits scene left about halfway through the book via Unexpected Oceanic Death and Hesta enters, with her large eyes and orange beret, and she and Dick shack up. And this is where the whole thing gets seedy. Daphne wanted to write about the uncomfortable relationships between men and women, and she nailed it because this is The Worst. Dick spends ages trying to convince Hesta to let him nail her, complete with sulks and professions of love and more sulks. After he finally wears her down he’s all *phew* Now that I’ve had you you can give up your music and come live in my flat with me and I will ignore you while I write the Great English Novel.
So it goes. After a while (months, say) Hesta is like, I’m bored. Remember how we used to…you know. And Dick, who has been busily writing a novel (and a play! Both sure to be hits!) all this time is like, ‘You mustn’t…you musn’t be like that. It’s ghastly…it’s making a thing of it, it’s – it’s unattractive. It’s all right for me to want you, but not for you – at least, never to say.’ Ugh, right? So that when he goes to London to sell his novel (and play!) and his dad’s publisher is like, I’m sorry, but these are terrible, and he comes home to find that Hesta has left him for literally anyone else you’re all, Huzzah! Oh and also, The end.
I feel like I need a shower. It’s We Need To Talk About Kevin all over again. Du Maurier succeeded in making me feel hideously uncomfortable which, while impressive, is also unpleasant. I like my characters to be Good or Bad or a Mix but Something. I don’t like for them to wander around listlessly with no real ideas and a too-large sense of their own importance alternated with a sort of whiny comprehension of how much they actually suck.
Very good, and very skillfully done, but I didn’t like it.