Sunday Salon – Good Crime and Bad Biography

     I’ve been doing alot of reading this week partly to distract myself. I passed my state board of nursing tests for CNA1 but have to wait until my fingerprints go through the FBI thingamajiggy to get the actual license in order to move on to the next class. Frustrating!  They had to redo them because my prints are worn down and wouldn’t read. At least now I can tell people I have worked my fingers to the bone!

     I watched a terrific documentary on Silence of the Lambs a few weeks ago and was once again enthralled by the horrors of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. When I saw Red Dragon, the first in the series, on sale at Goodwill, I immediately put it in the pile.

     Will Graham had the dubious honor of catching Hannibal the Cannibal and barely lived to tell the tale. He recovered from his injuries, married and is living the retired life in Florida. When a serial killer murders two entire families, Crawford from the FBI talks him into coming back for a look into the case. Not only does Graham have to get inside the murderer’s head, but also must speak to his old nemesis, Dr. Lecter himself.  Although he cannot get a read on the killer, he himself is being watched and if he is not careful, his family may be next.

     This was one of those started out slow and just kept picking up speed books. Initially I was disappointed because there was so little Lecter in it. But when Harris finally brought the character of Francis Dolarhyde around it got very interesting and I couldn’t put it down.  I gave it 3 1/2 stars. It is an engrossing read.

     The “biography” turned out to be not so good. Reviewing  books I didn’t like is rare but in the interest of documenting everything, here it is.

Daphne du Maurier: A Daughter’s Memoir 

Flavia Leng

Mainstream Publishing (2007) – 206 Pgs.

2 1/2 Stars (1/2 star for the great pictures)

     Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) was an author and playwrite. She is most know for her works of suspense, mystery, and drama, notably the famous book, Rebecca. Many people don’t know she was also the author of The Birds, which Alfred Hitchcock made into that famous movie. I love her books and was eager to find out more about her. I figured her daughter would have some marvelous insights into her life and career.

     Hoo boy was I wrong. Choosing a child to discuss a famous parent is risky business no matter what. The books tend to become nasty tell-alls, or mommy-didn’t-love-me tirades. This was not a biography at all, but an autobiography of Flavia’s own childhood in Cornwall. In fact, her mother was only mentioned here and there and was merely a peripheral character. 

     Family stories of Daphne’s childhood, her ideas, and famous works were not covered.  This was all about Flavia who, sorry to say, I was not interested in. I felt like she put her mother’s picture and name on the cover to sell her own story.

     Flavia’s “poor me” ramblings became tiresome, fast. I’m sorry that her brother was Daphne’s favorite child and understand that anyone can be neglected no matter what social strata they live in.  But reader perception is difficult to capture here. The assertions of “few treats”, or “existing on a meager subsistence” were difficult to comprehend. Flavia lived in a huge beautiful home in the English countryside, had her own pony, was taken to the theatre in London, and went boating on a yacht belonging to her father who just happened to be the comptroller of Princess Elizabeth’s household.

     Of course she did name her son Rupert. If that doesn’t prove some kind of childhood abuse, I don’t know what does.

     Oh well, you can’t win them all. Hope everyone has a happy reading week!

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10 Responses

  1. Congratulations on passing the state board test! Hopefully the fingerprinting won’t take overly long. I enjoyed Red Dragon when I read it but I think Silence of the Lambs is the best in the series. Have you read Hannibal? I wasn’t too thrilled with that one. I’m sorry Leng’s book wasn’t better. I’m not sure I’d like it based on what you wrote.

    I hope you have a great week, Jaimie!

    • Wendy – I didn’t like Hannibal either. It was just too wacked for me. I thought Silence of the Lambs was the best one too but I’m glad I finished the entire series. I’m still looking for a good biography on du Maurier so I’ll let you know.
      You have a good week too!

  2. Yikes, you have worked your fingers to the bone! Congrats on passing the nursing boards; I’m sure the paperwork will catch up soon.

    Sorry to hear that the du Maurier ‘biography’ was so uneven (or, evenly poor). It sounds more of a memoir tagged on to a famous parent.

    Hope this week’s reading is all great!

    • Thanks Dawn! – The fingerprints will probably take another week and then my teacher said she’d start lighting some fires under people’s tails!
      Every once in a while I read a bad book but thankfully not that often. You are right about it being a memoir tagged onto a famous parent!
      Have a great week!

  3. Congratulations! It’s a happy feeling to accomplish a goal, especially a big goal like yours.

    And I love it that you’ve “worked your fingers to the bone.” Hilarious!

  4. Du Maurier is one of my favorites; have you read her autobiography Myself When Young? That might be a more interesting read. It’s been many years since I read it, but I remember enjoying it, especially the bit where she describes finding her own Manderly.

  5. Gypsi – Me too! I remember the first time I read Rebecca and was completely lost in it. Wow! I’m going to check out Myself When Young. Thanks for the referral!
    Have a great week!

  6. Congratulations!

    I haven’t read any of them…

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