#DDMreadingweek – The Breakthrough by Daphne du Maurier

Dispatch the maimed, the old, the weak, destroy the very world itself, for what is the point of life if the promise of fulfilment lies elsewhere?

Book blurb

On the windswept coast of rural Suffolk, a deranged scientist attempts to extract the essence of life itself.

My thoughts

I enjoyed this story which has an electronic engineer, Steven, being asked to go on a kind of secondment to a Government funded research project on the Suffolk coast. Steven is given short notice and finds himself moving in a couple of days. The head of the project, Mac, has a bit of a bad reputation from a previous project that was ended in difficult circumstances.

When he arrives a young chap called Ken picks him up from the station and takes him to the project which will also be his home for the coming months.

Steven learns from Ken a bit about the place, then from Mac what the work is he will be doing. He’s also told that the previous holder of the post he is filling at such short notice left on religious grounds. Steven learns more in the coming days and begins to understand why the work became contentious for his predecessor. He almost doesn’t stay although not for exactly the same reasons.

Mac has the small team working on a non-governmental project which is quite shocking.

The series of computers, known as Charon*, go well beyond the aims of the government project remit and takes the reader into the realms of the afterlife/science fiction dealing with what happens to the energy that the body releases on death and how it can be captured. Mac brings his theory on death to life in a way that will make you ponder whether it’s really possible as Mac believes.

This story is an intriguing and interesting premise and packs quite a bit in its 60-ish pages. However, it does leave the reader to make their own mind up on whether this is something that is possible or not and indeed if they feel it is something that should be considered.

I enjoyed this story, originally published in 1966 and found it fascinating to find Daphne du Maurier writing on a speculative topic having really only known her from reading Rebecca many years ago.

This, however, is more about the action than the obsession, as can be found in Rebecca. Certainly the length of this story does not allow for much analysis by Stephen on Mac’s personality and how he might have become engrossed with finding solutions to capturing what he believes to be a wasted energy source. Perhaps and I think we must assume that is just as Du Maurier intended or the story would have possibly been written from a different characters point of view.

*In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon (/ˈkɛərɒn, -ən/ KAIR-on, -⁠ən) is a psychopomp (‘guide of souls’), the ferryman of Hades, the Greek underworld and is the son of Erebus and Nyx. He carries the souls of those who have been given funeral rites across the rivers Acheron and Styx, which separate the worlds of the living and the dead.


Published: Penguin* – 1st edition (22 Feb. 2018) | 64 pages | ISBN: 9780241339206 | Imprint: Penguin Classics |

Series – *Penguin Modern: The Breakthrough is #3 of fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York’s underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.


Author: Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) was born in London, England and educated at home and in Paris. She began writing in 1928, and many of her bestselling novels were set in Cornwall, where she lived for most of her life. In 1931 her first novel, The Loving Spirit was published. A biography of her father and three other novels followed, but it was the novel Rebecca that launched her into the literary stratosphere and made her one of the most popular authors of her day. In 1932, du Maurier married Major Frederick Browning with whom she had three children. Many of du Maurier’s bestselling novels and short stories were adapted into award-winning films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. In 1969, du Maurier was awarded the Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) and died in 1989.

More information: Daphne du Maurier website | Penguin | Virago

Books by the author

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Looking for thoughtful discussions about books and beverages? Well, you've come to the right place.

Taking On a World of Words

Homepage for fledgling writer Sam A. Stevens

Books, Cats, Etc.

A place to share my love of books, old and new


Thinking, writing, thinking about writing...


Book reviews by someone who loves books ...

Just One More Chapter

Book Reviews & More

Years of Reading Selfishly

Life is too short to read books you don't love

Crime Cymru

The Welsh Crime Writing Collective

Sharon Dempsey

First Chapter

Beverley's Reads

Book Reviews & The Joy of Reading

the dead authors club

a classics club blog


The poetry and writing of Ailsa Cawley. Welcome!

The Last Word Book Review

Musings about books and a blog journal

Crime Writer Margot Kinberg

...a crime-fictional site

Hugh's Views & News  

WordPress & Blogging tips, flash fiction, photography and lots more!

The Classics Club

A Community of Classics Lovers

Reading Matters

Book reviews of mainly modern & contemporary fiction

Raven Crime Reads

Criminally good reads

The book review café

Book reviews and the occasional ramblings of a book blogger

A crime readers blog

A place for crime fiction reviews and occasional ramblings of a 40 something in York

A Fangirl's Opinion

One Girl, Too Many Books

Jen Med's Book Reviews

Musings and Ramblings of a Disorganised Blogger

Digital Reads Media

Shalini's Digital Reads & Promotions

KayCKay Book Reviews

No one ever reads the same book. We all react to the written word differently. The following are my opinions regarding the books I have read.

Being Anne...

Books, travel, and other things that make life interesting

What Cathy Read Next...

For book lovers everywhere

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Book related stuff in English and Dutch!

Nordic Lighthouse

Spotlight on Nordic / Scandinavian crime fiction... and connections

Novel Deelights

Escaping reality one book at a time

Jess Bookish Life

Reader | Writer | Blogger

Scribbling Clouds

The place where I put down all my thoughts and observations

Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

A book blog with a speculative focus

Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Reading under the light of a Carolina moon



Ah Sweet Mystery!

Celebrating the Golden Age of Detection in books and on screen

Bibliophile Book Club

Books, reviews and more...


Life in Newcastle and beyond...

Reviews by Chloé

Feast your eyes on all the books that I have absolutely LOVED


Book reviews and random musings

%d bloggers like this: