The Birds and Other Stories

The Birds And Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier My favourite story from this collection is "The Apple Tree". The stories are, each in its own way, deliciously creepy.

But deliciously creepy, with a slightly bitter note. Yes, there are enjoyable elements to every one. (The Old Man was my next favourite, but then I get nervous about choosing favourites after that because there are only six stories in total and I don't like to think that one of them would end up at the bottom of my list. I don't like choosing favourites.)

But the female characters in this collection's stories are described in such negative terms and presented in such limited and predictable roles that much of the fun was siphoned away.

The wife in "The Birds" was particularly annoying. And, well, maybe that's the point. Perhaps we readers are meant to all-the-more strongly sympathize with the poor man with the incredibly useless wife. The poor man who must protect not only his two children, but his...oh, might as well make that three children...for his wife contributes nothing positive to the terrifying situation this family finds itself in and, in fact, she hinders the man's efforts to shore up their defenses and her weakness forces him to make poor decisions which compromise their safety fundamentally.

But she's not annoying in an interesting way. No, she's annoying in a predictably two-dimensional Little Woman manner. In an over-the-top-eyes-rolling way.

If I can manage to squeeze my frustration over characterization aside, "The Birds" is even more disturbing than the Hitchcock film based on it. There is a darkness and despair to the story in its original form that I did not intuit from the film. Were it not for the caricature of the wife's sketch, I would have lost sleep over this one.

If you want to read my slightly longer review, you can find it here.