Book Review: "I’ll Never Be Young Again" by Daphne du Maurier

Rating: 2/5 stars


It is with great sorrow that I am putting this book ‘on-hold’. I detest not finishing a book and therefore can’t bear to drop it completely but I can’t say that I am going to rush to finish it so it felt right to review it now.
Some of my favourite stories (novels and shorts) have been told by Daphne du Maurier. She has a writing style that is both elegant and engrossing and so the reader cannot help but engage with her stories. This style is present, to a degree, in “I’ll Never Be Young Again” and, to be fair, that’s probably the only reason why I managed to read it for so long.
I’m afraid that the rest of this review is not going to be so positive.
My major criticism is the narrator. He is impossibly whiney, childlike, and annoying. This may be exactly what du Maurier wanted but in making this character the narrator she has also made the book an incredibly difficult read. I also feel that it is this narrative voice that limits her other characterisation. It seems that Richard doesn’t really have an interest in anything outside of himself and his own tumultuous emotions (again, this could work if he wasn’t the narrator) which means that we don’t really get an insight into any other characters. By the end of the first part “Jake” I was left feeling as though I knew nothing about Jake, other than a few facts, and certainly couldn’t see any signs of a “passionate friendship”. Richard and Jake seem like strangers to each other throughout and, instead of their relationship growing in familiarity, it seems to develop in contempt.
The plot itself should have worked really well, and I think that it probably did. That said, it seemed overly episodic, flashing from one thing to another. The narrator seems emotionally detatched, and disinterested generally, and this transfers to the reader and stops the reader from being sucked into the events themselves. Never was this more true than in the Swedish pub (I don’t really know quite how any of that happened!) or on the boat at the end of the part “Jake”.  These are key scenes and yet they happen in a flash which lessens their effect.
I tried to read on after “Jake” but stopped about a chapter into the next part because I simply couldn’t face it. It seemed like we were flung back to the beginning of the novel and would have to live through it all again.

Overall, I wouldn’t waste your time with this one unless you’re a huge du Maurier fan. Despite the fact I couldn’t finish it, I couldn’t give this book one star as it has a glint of better things in the basics of the plot and in the writing style (sans characterisation) but it’s a low two.

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