Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Daphne: life imitates art imitates life (discuss)

To readers of 'Daphne', you've probably already noticed by now that my life appears to have taken a nasty turn for the worse, following a somewhat unnerving pattern established in my novel, which is itself based on the disturbing patterns in Daphne du Maurier's life, that she reflected and refracted in her writing. Is this the curse of J.M Barrie? Or sheer coincidence?

20 comments:

oxford-reader said...

It's a tricky subject to discuss, Jutine, because both you and Daphne have used your lives to influence your work in many different ways. I think you also got wrapped up in that part of Daphne's life so completely when you were writing the novel, that perhaps it appears there are more relections than there actually are. I think there probably was a dark cloud over the J.M.Barrie set, but can that sort of thing extend to those who write about them? (I just typed 'J.M. Barrie curse' into google, and it came up with your Telegraph article from July ... I don't think you've incurred the wrath of Barrie by your novel).

What I suppose I'm trying to say is that although you share some things with Daphne, I don't think what you are experiencing now has anything to do with her - although it may seem uncanny.

Fiona said...

I'm ever so sorry to hear your news. Have been an avid reader of your blog having been led by loving your books, which are so beautifully and lyrically written and which are so warm as well. And once you've finished the splendid Nora Ephron I'd advise some Carol Shields (maybe the short stories) because she has the same qualities of lucid observation combined with humanity and compassion, and that's what we all most need during such difficult times. But I also think you should go out immediately and buy some lovely Jo Malone bath products, and candles, and some really delicious food and make sure you pamper yourself!

kairu said...

I agree with oxford-reader, Justine.

There was a lot of tragedy in that Llewelyn Davies family, but honestly, probably not more than what might happen in any large family (to paraphrase L. M. Montgomery in "Anne of Windy Poplars) at the time. War (not unlikely that they would lose at least one child), cancer (before modern treatments), suicide (before modern diagnoses and medications), and so forth. What makes them different is their association with a famous figure. Like the Kennedys, with their huge family and all their own tragedies (although I suppose you probably wouldn't get assassinated if you were't a president or presidential candidate). To call it a curse would be too easy.

Justine Picardie said...

Wise words from all of you, for which many thanks. I am feeling utterly wretched, but have just watched a DVD with a friend (Burn After Reading; I laughed hollowly) and eaten popcorn and chocolate.

Lou said...

I'm sure it is all just a horrible coincidence,not a curse.Remember your character in "Daphne" at the end feeling "braver ,almost exhilarated...".I hope you will feel this way soon...

Justine Picardie said...

I'm definitely feeling a bit braver today, though not yet exhilarated -- too exhausted for that!

Chloe said...

Hello Justine - my name is Chloe and I work for the BBC World Service. I'm putting together a global news discussion programme which airs tonight 19th Feb at 1800 GMT. It's on a topic I think you will be interested in. In light of the news that Jade Goody has just months to live and she's decided to play those weeks out in public we're asking "What's wrong with dying in public?" I know you have written about your sister's death in the past, and I appreciate this must be difficult for you to talk about, but could you possibly get in touch with me so I can explain further? You can contact me via email. Many thanks and I look forward to speaking to you.

Gondal-girl said...

Hi Justine, I have just posted my thoughts on this on my blog, as it has been something buzzing about in my head for ages. Just thought i would let you know
hope you are feeling stronger, slowly but surely.

Rob Hardy said...

I think you should impulsively come over to Minnesota, where you can stay in our book-filled guest room (plenty of Virago Modern Classics). My wife will make beautiful apple pies for you, and I'll cook other comfort foods, and you can curl up in front of the wood stove with our English setter at your feet. Then you can write a novel about an American family who adopts an English novelist. That would be lovely, but if it's too impractical, know that I am wishing you whatever is most comforting and whatever gives you the most strength.

Justine Picardie said...

I love the idea of apple pie and being adopted by a kind American family! In the meantime, I have been making chicken soup for my sons, and curled up with our dog. Fortunately, unlike the characters in Daphne, I do not appear to be going mad, despite the fact that the sky has fallen in. If I do start seeming mad on this blog, please send apple pie immediately.

kairu said...

I am no good at pie. I will send brownies, or my notorious croissant bread pudding.

When my mother's friend was in the midst of a divorce, they went for a holiday (inadvertently inviting my father along - I don't think they expected him to say yes) and wound up in Bhutan. I'm not suggesting that you head to Bhutan - although apparently the Amankora resort is really something - but perhaps a holiday is in order?

oxford-reader said...

How can we tell you are going mad Justine? Are there any bookish clues we can look out for?
Like Kairu, I am no good at pie, so I would make you chocolate and apricot cookies instead, and read to you from 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' to make you laugh.
In fact, here is an extract which caused me to laugh out loud (very loudly) in the pub yesterday ...

'Dear Miss Ashton, Oh my, oh my. You have written a book about Anne Bronte, sister to Charlotte and Emily ... To think all five of them had weak chests and died so young! What a sadness. Their Pa was a selfish thing, wasn't he? He paid his girls no mind at all - always sitting in his study, yelling for his shawl. He enever rose up to wait on hisself, did he? Just sat alone in his room while his daughters died like flies. And their brother, Branwell, he wasn't much either. Always drinking and sicking up on the carpets.'

Justine Picardie said...

That made me laugh out loud, too. And no, don't worry, I'm not going mad; that was simply a dryly ironic reference to 'Daphne'. I am far too practical, and also, I have another book to finish, on a rather more cheering subject (thank goodness).

Jill said...

Justine, we had great fun at bookclub this week discussing "My Mother's Wedding Dress", everyone had brought photos, memories and or clothes. I brought my aunt's miracle 1938 evening gown. It is black satin crepe and has been worn to many fetes and costume parties by women of different sizes and it fits and looks fabulous on all - the miracle of bias cut.We had much discussion and laughs over wine and cheesecake - just the thing for a Canadian midwinter evening. Thank you for your wonderful book.
I read an extract from Daphne - the group is very interested to read. They were saddened when I told them your news. My bookclub women helped keep me together during this dark time in my life. They are a diverse group of kind and witty women, we have been together now over 25 years(longer than my marriage lasted)

Justine Picardie said...

Jill -- thank you for your lovely, lovely message. I'm so pleased to hear that 'My Mother's Wedding Dress' inspired your book club to discuss memories, photographs and clothes -- the warp and weft of life. I love the sound of your aunt's bias cut dress: my sister Ruth was a big fan of the bias-cut, and so am I. In fact, inspired by you, I am going to post some of her writing that relates to clothes, and a bit of 'My Mother's Wedding Dress', for people who haven't yet read it... (and obviously, I hope more women will!).

Juxtabook said...

So sorry to hear your news Justine. Such a rotten thing to have happen on every level. I am glad your friends are rallying and that people are secretly sending you books - how lovely! I hope your paperback Daphne does well - are you touring again at all? - I kept missing your events last year. I read your introduced Daphne's Branwell before Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent introduction. A lot of people get a lot of pleasure from your work and will be willing such good thoughts, support and blessings to you over the airwaves.

Take Care, Catherine

oxford-reader said...

I loved reading 'My Mother's Wedding Dress', especially the bit about Charlotte Bronte's ring.

Also, on an unrelated note, I think your blog has an aversion to Saturday nights ... it's just gone awol on the front page again!

Justine Picardie said...

I was having a bit of an emotional crisis on Saturday night, so perhaps the blog had a wobble, too!

simoncadbury said...

i dont believe in curses ... automatically this would vote for a coincidence...

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