Auerbach examines the writer of depth and recklessness now largely known only as the author of Rebecca, looking at the way her sharp-edged fiction, with its brutal and often perverse family relationships, has been softened in film adaptations of her work. She reads both du Maurier's life in her writings, and the sensibility of a vanished class and time that haunts the fringes of our own age.
Nina Auerbach is John Welsh Centennial Professor of History and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous books, including Ellen Terry, Player in Her Time, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press, and Our Vampires, Ourselves.
"Auerbach is . . . here, as everywhere, a pleasure to read, as she rescues du Maurier from her Rebecca fate, giving her her due, and indicating one of the ways in which women, disliking the assigned female role, learn to live with it and vindicate their sense of deprivation in writing."—Carolyn G. Heilbrun
"In the bright light of Auerbach's book, all sorts of unsuspected hauntings and legacies become visible."—Lorna Scott Fox, London Review of Books
"A fascinating portrait of du Maurier's career as family chronicler, avid researcher and frank anatomist of familial cruelty."—Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times
"An engaging blend of autobiography and critical appraisal."—Robert Taylor, Boston Globe
"Outrageous and winsomely fresh."—Emily Gordon, Newsday
"In an engaging prose style, Auerbach, a scholar of Victorian and feminist studies, reveals her literary passion for du Maurier. . . . She devotes a chapter to du Maurier's family-her grandfather, novelist George du Maurier, and her father, actor-manager Gerald du Maurier-and how these strong men were reflected in her fiction, turning her novels and stories into a reaction against her male heritage. Auerbach also examines film versions of du Maurier's work, revealing how Hitchcock and others romanticized the dark vision of Rebecca and other fictions."—Library Journal