“Girls Gone Wild”: Jenny Allen, Essay # 1 (I’m Awake)

Self will put off My Cousin Rachel for a week or so, just so she can un-knot her nerves after reading Jamaica Inn (Five Stars)

She began reading Would Everybody Please Stop? by Jenny Allen.

Sometimes, when I first go to sleep for the night, I fall asleep to the television. And this is a strange thing: No matter what I have fallen asleep watching, when I wake up, what’s on is Girls Gone Wild. I never turn the channel to Girls Gone Wild, let alone turn up the volume, but the volume is ear-splitting.

If someone had told self that less than 24 hours after bidding farewell to Altarnun, Launceston, and the moors, she would be reading about Girls Gone Wild, she would have said: Shut up!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Redwood City Public Library Author Series, Fall 2018


Fireplace Room, Downtown Library, Redwood City

The first reading of the series was Holocaust Survivor, Public Speaker and Memoirist Sylvia Ruth Gutmann, reading from her book A Life Rebuilt: The Remarkable Transformation of a War Orphan. It was held two nights ago, in the Fireplace Room of the Main Library, and self is most happy to report the reading was a resounding success: a sizeable audience packed the room. High Fives to Sylvia Ruth Gutman for kicking off the series on such an auspicious note!

The second reading is a Women Authors Panel featuring self, Lillian Howan and Veronica Montes. Saturday, Sept. 8, 2:30 p.m., at the Fireplace Room of the Downtown Library. Self is a long-time Redwood City resident, and she’s so pleased to be reading with two of her favorite writers!

Veronica Montes’s first book, Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories (Philippine American Literary House, 2018), is a sparkling collection of stories about Filipino Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lillian Howan’s first novel, The Charm Buyers (University of Hawai’i Press, 2017) is an extraordinary and powerful love story, set in Tahiti during the last years of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, in the 1990s.

About self: She’s published three collections of short stories (Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, Mayor of the Roses, and The Lost Language) and a novella, Jenalyn (Vagabondage Press), that was a finalist for the 2014 Saboteur Award. She has stories published or forthcoming in Quarterly West, Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, Juked, and Prairie Schooner.


Books will be available for purchase and signing.

The last event in the series is a reading by Vanessa Garcia, reading from See You at the 7: Stories from the Bay Area’s Last Original Mile House. The 7 Mile House in Brisbane is the only Bay Area mile house operating at its original location. Garcia will read on Sept. 26, 7 p.m., in the Downtown Library Community Room.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



The End of Rebecca

Self has been pondering Rebecca since she finished reading it, late last night.

She spent almost two full days in pajamas, that’s how deeply vested she became in the narrative and the array of characters: the landscape, the house, the manners, the hopelessly fish-out-of-water narrator, the malevolent first wife, the mysterious (and rather odious) Maxim de Winter, the loyal and absolutely upstanding agent/lawyer Frank Crawley (who ended up being self’s favorite character), the well-meaning but annoying Beatrice, the servants Frith and Robert, Tabb the shipbuilder, of course the gray Mrs. Danvers, the newbie maid Clarice, even the dog Jasper for heaven’s sake!

Self was rather under-whelmed by Mrs. Danvers at the end.

There were many hints of wild orgies at the beach cottage. And poor Maxim turned out to be such a doormat! At least, as far as Rebecca was concerned. So different from the man who makes an impetuous proposal to the narrator in Monte Carlo!

After finishing, self went back and read the first two chapters. Thinking, reflecting, and feeling like the story can’t end here, it must go on.

But alas! It does end.

Self began Jamaica Inn.

Stay tuned.

First Love: Rebecca, Ch. 5

  • Not for me the languor and the subtlety I had read about in books. The challenge and the chase. The sword-play, the swift glance, the stimulating smile. The art of provocation was unknown to me, and I would sit with his map upon my lap, the wind blowing my dull, lanky hair, happy in his silence, yet eager for his words.

And that, dear blog readers, is how you write about first love in first person. Slow clap!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reminds Self of Marguerite Duras

Still Chapter 4, Rebecca:

As he spoke, the car became one of many once again, dusk had fallen without my noticing it, and we were in the midst of light and sound in the streets of Monte Carlo.

Oh how beautiful the tone of that passage is.

Stay tuned.

Ch. 4.2, Rebecca

Before lunch with Mr. de Winter vs. After lunch with Mr. de Winter: The maitre’d exhibits a 180-degree change in attitude and all the hotel staff bow to the narrator deferentially.

The result?

“I found the change depressing; it made me despise myself.”

lol forever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ch. 4, Rebecca

What we have now — after the very stream-of-consciousness opening where the young narrator waxes on about how wonderful, how all-encompassing, her knowledge of the English countryside is — is a scene with the aloof Mr. de Winter.

Self is so in awe of Du Maurier. Note for note, the trapdoor is being set. She can feel it in every sentence, the engine of the plot is that strong. In fact, it’s rather relentless.

And yet, these are people, actual people, not caricatures. Oh, well, maybe Mr. de Winter is Mr. Rochester 2.0, but he’s a bit more sociable. More attractive, in self’s humble opinion. To be perfectly honest, self never found Mr. Rochester attractive, not in Jane Eyre and not even in Wide Sargasso Sea when he was younger and much more kinky. And Monte Carlo is a way more festive setting than Thornfield. There’s nothing the least bit gothic about Monte Carlo.

Apologies for the constant comparison of Rebecca to Jane Eyre, but self just can’t help it. For one thing, Daphne Du Maurier was very aware of the long shadow of Charlotte Bronte. Even though she wasn’t trying to re-write Jane Eyre, she was so aware of it.

The satire here, by the way, is quite delicious.

This is from the first conversation between the narrator and Mr. de Winter:

“Your friend,” he began, “she is very much older than you. Is she a relation? Have you known her long?” I saw he was still puzzled by us.

“She’s not really a friend,” I told him, “she’s an employer. She’s training me to be a thing called a companion, and she pays me ninety pounds a year.”

“I did not know one could buy companionship,” he said; “it sounds a primitive idea. Rather like the eastern slave market.”

“I looked up the word ‘companion’ once in the dictionary,” I admitted, “and it said ‘a companion is a friend of the bosom.’ “




Stay tuned.


Ch. 3, Rebecca: The Odious Mrs. Van Hopper

She paused, expecting him to smile, but he went on smoking his cigarette, and I noticed, faint as gossamer, the line between his brows. — Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca


  • I know the name of every owner of every British moor, yes — and their tenants too . . . The state of the crops, the price of fat cattle, the mysterious ailments of swine, I relish them all.

Rebecca had its inception in Daphne Du Maurier’s intense unhappiness at being forced to follow her military husband to the city of Alexandria, early in her marriage.

The novel became a beast and overshadowed everything.

Self began reading it in the wee hours, after finishing Manderley Forever, the biography by Tatiana de Rosnay. (She’s on a Daphne Du Maurier kick. Five stars to Manderley Forever)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

6 June 1944: Manderley Forever, p. 170

Self’s rate of reading has picked up quite a bit.

It’s the war, and Daphne Du Maurier has secluded herself in her beloved Menabilly while her husband Tommy gets himself promoted to lieutenant general but still travels everywhere with his “eight favorite teddy bears.” He signs his letters to his wife “with all the love a man’s heart can hold.”

On June 6, 1944, Daphne gets a call from her sisters, who tell her that “while they were taking care of their tomatoes for the Women’s Land Army, they noticed that, by evening, there was not a single American ship in the bay.”

Operation Market Garden, “the biggest airborne operation of the war,” is about to start, and Daphne’s Tommy has expressed his doubts about the operation to General Bernard Montgomery in no uncertain terms: “We might be going a bridge too far, sir.”

At the bridge at Arnhem, “seventeen thousand soldiers are killed.”

At this point, her husband is 47 years old. He earned a medal for valor at just 19, he has served in the military for almost 20 years and the experience has gutted him.

It reminds self of Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods, that novel’s main character could never recover from what he witnessed at Vietnam, things so unspeakable.

But Daphne goes on writing. She writes a play that reminds self of The Return of Martin Guerre (great, great short novel by Janet Lewis. Self feels like re-reading it, even just so she can get to that last line, which totally shattered her) A wife loses her husband at sea, manages to forge a new life, and falls in love with another man. Then her husband returns. That’s a good trope.

“At the end of 1944,” Daphne’s husband becomes Lord Mountbatten’s chief of staff in Ceylon and . . .  Daphne begins writing her next book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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