The Birds – Daphne Du Maurier (1952)


Daphne Du Maurier, the author of the chilling Rebecca, wrote a series of short stories, including The Birds. This is the novella upon which Hitchcock loosely based his 1963 film of the same title. Taking place shortly after WWII, towns in Britain are suddenly and mysteriously bombarded by maliciously vicious birds. There is no explanation as to what caused them to act so violently, nor anyway of knowing when it will stop. The story centres on a young family – Nat Hocken, his unnamed wife, and their two children Jill and Johnny. Nat works to protect his family the best that he can, and attempts to warn his neighbours of the seriousness of the situation. His pleas fall on deaf ears. The reader could read this, as I did, as a metaphor for the London Blitz, during WWII – an unknowable fear, causing death, no knowledge of resolution and the people feeling powerless to stop the relentless attacks. I have found Du Maurier to be an expert writer, keeping the reader intrigued until the last. The thrills are not from the graphic content, but rather from the idea of fear and the inability to protect oneself from the insanity of said fear. 

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