I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to when I stumbled across this one. It consists of six short stories written by Daphne Du Maurier and narrated by various people.
Okay, we all know this story. For some reason birds, all kinds of birds, start attacking humans out of nowhere.
The story follows the Hocken family. Nat Hocken, a war veteran sees birds gathering together in droves and finds it strange. When he comments on it, others wave it away. It’s the weather, they explain. He is not satisfied with this response but doesn’t think too much of it. Until the birds suddenly attack him as he makes his way into his home.
These attacks start occurring everywhere. And as the bird attacks become fierce, the Hocken family takes shelter in theor home. Nat boards up the house and does everything possible to stop the birds from entering the home as their incessant pecking on the wooden house increases.
This is a pretty eerie story. It’s fairly short yet still managed to scare the bejesus out of me. When I saw a pigeon out and about, I almost fainted on sight. The worst part? The story has no conclusion. But taking into consideration everything that happens, I feel safe in assuming the Hocken family doesn’t survive. Which means, the birds win. And we still don’t know why it all happened in the first place.
The unnamed narrator recounts a tale regarding his best friend Victor, his best friend’s wife Anna, and a mysterious mountain.
The story begins with the 70 year old narrator, talking about how he and Victor first met as students. How they both shared a passion for hiking and had climbed every mountaintop near them. And he talks about how Victor met Anna.
The narrator thinks of Anna as Victor’s opposite. While he is loud and boisterous, she is quiet and serious. One day, the couple plans a hiking trip to Mount Verità. Neither of the men have heard of it, so the narrator tells Victor to be cautious as he does not know the terrain, and leaves on a business trip.
Upon his return, he discovers that Anna has left Victor and he has been in a nursing home for quite some time. He rushes to his friend’s side and listens to Victor’s strange tale of their adventure on Mount Verità.
This was an usual story. I knew something weird was going on, but like the narrator, we have to piece the narrative together ourselves. We only know what the narrator knows, after all.
It was a good anecdote. There are a few tiny things that I didn’t fully grasp, but it was still enjoyable. It’s a bit of a mystery. Trying to figure out what exactly is happening on Mount Verità. And when you do, you realize it’s actually deeper than expected.
The Apple Tree
Well, I’ll never eat an apple without thinking of Midge. Yikes.
A man has been married to Midge for a long time. When he retires, the two are all of a sudden spending more time together. The husband is often neglectful of his wife and her needs. It becomes obvious fairly soon that they kind of don’t know how to live one another.
One day, Midge gets sick. Pneumonia. Next thing you know, she’s dead. The husband thinks he is to blame. And comes to believe that an apple tree holds his wife’s spirit. From that point on, he begins to crack. The wood burned from the tree sickens him. The apples produced by said tree, also sicken him. He cannot tolerate anything that the apple tree provides.
This was a fairly interesting story. Less on the spooky factor, more on the straightforward factor. It’s basically the story of a shitty husband who is haunted by an apple tree. And what happens when he tries to get rid of the poor tree. That’s it. That’s the story. But it was a damn good story.
The Little Photographer
A Marquise is vacationing on the French Riviera with her two young children when she meets a photographer. The two begin an illicit affair. When she attempts to end things, the story takes a sinister turn.
This story wasn’t as supernatural as the others. It left me feeling underwhelmed. I wasn’t actually surprised by the turn the story takes. Actually, it reminded me of a stunt they’d pull in a telenovela.
Hm. Not my favorite.
Kiss Me, Stranger
A war veteran is living a pretty satisfactory life. One day, he visits a local movie theater and is smitten by one of the usherettes. He flirts with her but she gives him the brush off. After the movie ends, he catches a glimpse of her walking down the street. He follows. She boards a bus. He does too. She falls asleep. He sits beside her and pays her bus fare. She briefly wakes up tells him at which stop to wake her and leans her head on his shoulder and dozes off again.
This story was pretty straightforward. Girl catches guy’s eye, seemingly good guy acts like a creep and stalks her. Guy and girl share a moment. Then the story takes an unexpected turn. I thought I knew where the story was going. Ha! I was way off base.
There’s a tinge of suspense in the story. You get the idea that something is going to happen. But you’re not exactly sure what. And then it all dawns on you just as the narrator realizes what is happening. My mouth actually fell open. The creep dodged a bullet.
The Old Man
A man watches his strange neighbor and his family. The old man, the family’s patriarch, does not allow any of his family members to interact with other people. The rare times that they do, they communicate in a language that the neighbor does not recognize.
One day, the old man and his wife return home without their children (2 daughters and 1 son). Now, the children are all grown so the neighbor thinks that the parents simply kicked their kids out of the house. But 3 weeks later, the son shows up and is pushed away by the father. A few days later, the son turns up dead.
This story reminded me a bit of Rear Window. Because this guy is always observing the old man and his family. They’ve been neighbors for years so I guess he’s curious about them.
The ending was weird though. I have a feeling it’s supposed to be profound. But that deepness was lost on me. Honestly, I’m confused. I don’t get it. So I can’t really say much else. I have nothing else to add about this story.
These stories make me want to reread Rebecca because I actually didn’t like it the first time I read it. Maybe her writing style isn’t for me..?
Some of these short stories were definitely good and spooky. I think The Birds was my favorite. Least favorite? Obviously The Old Man. #stillconfused. But for the most part I thought they were simply okay. Idk. Must be a writing style thing.