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.