Two suburban women. Two dark secrets. The almost perfect murder.
Melissa and Hester have lived next door to each other for years. When Melissa’s daughter was younger, Hester was almost like a grandmother to her. But recently they haven’t been so close.
Hester has plans to change all that. It’s obvious to her that despite Melissa’s outwardly glamorous and successful life, she needs Hester’s help. But taking help from Hester might not be such a good idea for a woman with as many secrets as Melissa…
Bestselling The Woman Next Door is published by Harper Collins Killer Reads in July 2016
You can read my 5* full review of The Woman Next Door here
I'm delighted to welcome Cass Green along to my Daphne Du Maurier Blog Tour and to hear her thoughts about the novelist!
Do you have a favourite book by Daphne Du Maurier and what is it you love about that book so much?
I’m ashamed to admit that it’s only quite recently that I’ve become a big fan and I’m still happily making my way through the collection. But so far, I think my favourite has been My Cousin Rachel. I was so happy when I learned there was soon to be a movie of this wonderful book. I can’t wait to see it, although I’m also a bit nervous. Will they really do it justice? I hope so.
When did you discover her novels? Were you recommended them? Discover them independently? Which one did you read first?
I’ve just dug out my paperback copy of Rebecca, which now looks about a million years old but was bought in 1992! I’d read it before, as a teenager, and it was every bit as good as I had remembered. But for some strange reason, I didn’t seek out any more of Du Maurier’s works until this year. I was aware of Jamaica Inn, of course, but didn’t realise quite what a rich oeuvre she had created. Anyway, a few months ago I was having a conversation with a writer friend called Natasha Farrant about writing thrillers. She said that in her opinion, anyone who writes this kind of book really should read My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. I downloaded it soon after and just raved about to everyone I met afterwards. I had that feeling of just’ falling’ head first into a book and barely drawing breath until I finished. Do you know what I mean?
Why do you think her novels still resonate with readers today and what makes them so unforgettable?
She does suspense so brilliantly of course, and her characters are intriguing and complex. These are the elements that people talk about a lot, and rightly so. But when I read Jamaica Inn recently, I was blown away by the descriptions of the harsh moorland and the coastline. In my own books, describing settings is one of my big challenges! I have to work really hard at bringing them to life. But she makes these settings just explode into life in my mind and I am in awe of the technical skill at play here. I found myself re-reading passages of description, feeling quite weak with envy! Indulge me for a minute, if you will, with this passage, which is just over halfway through. Our heroine Mary is making discoveries about what her uncle is up to at the beach:
Mary could see no more than a few yards in front of her. The night had thickened considerably, and in the gullyway it was black like a pit. There were no stars now in the sky, and the sharp wind of the moors had become a boisterous thing of noise and bluster, trailing a wet fog for company,’ ( and then as she comes to the shore,) ‘She knew now why a softness had crept upon the air, and why the mizzle of rain fell on her hand lightly, with a tang of salt. The high banks gave a false feeling of shelter in contrast to the bleak wilderness of the moors, but once away from their deceptive shadow the illusion would be lost and the tearing gale cry louder than before.’
How has she influenced your own writing? Or what impact do you think she has had on the psychological thriller genre as we know it today?
I could never compare my own writing to hers but she has definitely given me some high goals to aim for, such as trying to add richness to a story rather than being only concerned with haring along to the next ‘twist.’
Which recent psychological thriller do you think Daphne Du Maurier would have wanted to have written if she were alive today?
Gosh, that’s a hard question! I’m not sure she would ever have felt that way, to be honest. But I hope she would enjoy that her work lives on and is constantly finding new fans. And I think she would be pleased that so many readers still love to read thrillers in general.
Have you seen any of the screen adaptations of her books? Will you be going to see My Cousin Rachel? Are you able to enjoy film adaptations or do you find yourself flicking through your paperback and checking for accuracy ?!
I’ve only seen the famous Rebecca movie, with Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, which is GLORIOUS. Now I’m thinking about it, catching that one evening on telly may have been what motivated me to read the book again all those years ago! I think it is always tricky when much-loved books make it onto the big screen. I feel a strange mixture of excitement (that someone else, somewhere, also ‘got’ the book) and proprietorial anxiety (what if they mess it up?) .
If you were able to host a ‘fantasy book group’ and Du Maurier came along, what question might you ask her about her own novels? What question do you think she might set your book group about her novels?
I would be more interested in her writerly processes, I think. I would absolutely love to know more about her individual approach to plotting. How on earth did she produce these brilliantly entertaining, tight plots, over and over again?
Can you recommend any other authors or books for fans of Du Maurier’s novels?
I would highly recommend the early books of Barbara Vine to anyone who enjoys Daphne Du Maurier and hasn’t read her before. I really fell in love with these books in the 80s and 90s. I would recommend THE HOUSE OF STAIRS and A DARK ADAPTED EYE.
If you have missed any of the other stops on the blog tour then here are all the links;