the guardian Sat 14 March 2009
It is 1957 and Daphne du Maurier should be enjoying the success of Rebecca, but she is instead reeling from the discovery of her husband's affair and subsequent breakdown. Several months and endless descriptions later, Daphne is still reeling: wandering Cornish beaches, fearing that her life is following the path of her most famous creation. So distracting is her behaviour that it is difficult to concentrate on the actually very interesting plot: her research into the life of Branwell Brontë and her attempt to prove that Branwell was not the drunken wastrel of popular history, but possibly the author of poems credited to Emily. A parallel narrative of a young literary woman struggling with a PhD on Du Maurier only serves to underline the unfortunate notion that literary women are indecisive flakes - and rather dull. There is the core of something fascinating and serious here that it should have been a privilege to discover, but the plodding prose negates the joy of rich material - and just makes them seem a rum lot indeed.