Book Review – Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier

Don't Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne Du MaurierWhen I was compiling my list of books to take on holiday, I was delighted to find that there was a Daphne Du Maurier short story called Don’t Look Now which was set in Venice. In typical Du Maurier style, Don’t Look Now is a little masterpiece of suspense fiction. It drew me in and gave me a short sharp shock that left me decidedly unnerved.

In the story, John and Laura visit Venice to try to find an escape from the pain of the loss of their daughter and to help patch up their relationship. While out for lunch one day they encounter two old women – twins – one of which is blind and appears to have second sight. They make an alarming prophecy. Instead of finding solace on their holiday, John and Laura find themselves entangled in a series of strange events.

Quite simply, Don’t Look Now is one of the creepiest short stories I’ve ever read. I’m sure that it didn’t help that I was in Venice at the time of reading it but I think even without that it would have frightened me.

What I thought was so effective about the story was that the characters of John and Laura were so plausible, their conversations so typical in the way that they joked with each other and then argued over the Twin’s prediction. John takes the rational route, where Laura feels that there could be something in it. Are they really in danger or is Laura just overwrought after the loss of her daughter? It’s actually a pretty sad state of affairs, but Du Maurier is a totally unsentimental author which I think is part of why I love her writing so much.

I’ve only read one of the other stories from this compilation, (Not After Midnight) which I thought was good but nothing like Don’t Look Now. I would totally sanction buying the book just for this one tale though as I haven’t found as suspenseful short story since I read Sophie Hannah’s The Octopus Nest from The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.

Don’t read Don’t Look Now if you’re easily spooked!

Have you read any really good short stories recently?

27 responses to “Book Review – Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier

  1. Daphne Du Maurier is so good at doing creepy! I’ve not read this yet but glad that you enjoyed it.

  2. This sounds amazing! I have read a few of her short stories in another collection and they are very good – always with a brilliant twist at the end. I hope the library has this edition as I’d love to read it. During the daytime only though!

  3. This sounds great – in a creepy way! I haven’t read anything by Daphne du Maurier but she is on my never ending list this year, definitely. I’m going to look out for this. Thanks for your review.

  4. I hate it when people say this, but now I am saying it… I can’t read what you have written about the book as I havent read it yet… once I have, which wont be a million years away I will come back, honest!

  5. Ooooh this sounds great! I love du Maurier. I’m adding this to my tbr list. 🙂

  6. Wow! I’m coverted! I’m going to check this out asap. I’ve still to read anything by du Maurier. I blame my year 11 lit teacher who went on a rant about Rebecca being a rip-off of Jane Eyre. This might do the trick.

    I did read some good short stories by Doris Lessing recently, particularly ‘To Room Nineteen’, which is also the title of the collection.

  7. There is a very good film adaptation of Don’t Look Now starring Donald Sutherland – if you can find a copy…

  8. I love Daphne DuMaurier. After reading Rebecca I went through everything she ever wrote, so I’m sure I read this. But, it must have been in the 70’s, so I’m sure it’s time to pick it up again. Thanks for the reminder! In fact, I wouldn’t mind reading Rebecca again for the 9th million time. ;0

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  10. Virginie Menzildjian

    I am easily spooked and that is the reason why I will buy this book, I really love a good spook once in a while!!!I never heard about the Octopus’nest and I will definitely check it out….
    Thanks for sharing :-D,
    Great blog I discovered thanks to “The Book Whisperer !

  11. Just in case you don’t know it, The Breaking Point is an even better short story collection by du Marurier.

    • Hi Bruce,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I didn’t and pointers about good du Maurier books are

        always

      welcome!!

  12. Oh boy do I have a short story for you! Also set in Venice it’s “Podolo” by L P Hartley. It spooked me out just as much as “Don’ Look Now” (and I love that!). Enjoy!

    • Oh thanks for suggesting!!! That sounds ACE. I’ve only read The Go Between but would love to read more Hartley – plus if it’s spookier than Don’t Look Now it’s got to be great!

  13. Hope you like it! I have another suggestion for ya….it’s another creepy, spooky one by one of my favorite writers…”Our Lady of Darkness” by Fritz Leiber. There’s a great website about this novel and the setting: http://www.mikehumbert.com/Fritz_Leibers_Our_Lady_of_Darkness_page_1. LMK what you think of my 2 favorite creepy written pleasures. I love those weird stories that stick with ya and rattle around in my head (with all the jelly beans).Again enjoy!

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