“But then dreams are apart from the business of living; they are things we shed from us gently as we grow older”

Du Maurier’s second novel begins in London as Richard (Dick) is snatched from attempting to take his own life by wanderer Jake. The two men strike up an instant friendship and begin a devil-may-care look at life and jump on the first ship leaving town and head for Sweden. They trek the mountains and party with tourists as a steamboat cruises the fjords until they finally end up in a brawl that sends them catching the first boat out of Stockholm – although that boat is destined for a fate that forever separates the two friends.

Adrift again but no longer suicidal, Dick leads a shiftless life in Paris drifting from job to job as he dreams of becoming a writer like his famous father, until one day he meets young music student Hesta and they settle into a relationship – although Dick still shrugs responsibility and puts off writing his “great book”. Dick eventually begins to mature through his relationship with Hesta, but the relationship becomes strained as Dick’s influence in her life changes her from a sensible grounded student into a carefree partying drifter no longer interested in her music lessons.

Ironic, isn’t it? But so true to life – didn’t we all hate our parents and do really stupid things when we were young? I believe this is the first time Du Maurier used her famous “male voice” and she shows remarkable insight into Dick’s not so very likeable character (I did want to smack him on Hesta’s behalf a few times). While not up to what she wrote in her later years, if you’re a fan of Du Maurier’s you might want to give this one a whirl – It’s one that will definitely stay with you for a bit as you reflect back on your own misspent youth. I almost gave it three stars, but then it _is_ Du Maurier after all. 4/5 stars.

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