Short Stories Challenge – The Blue Lenses by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Published January 12, 2014 by bibliobeth

The Breaking Point

What’s The Blue Lenses all about?:

A woman is having her sight restored by means of an operation in a hospital where they are fitting a pair of blue lenses. When she is finally able to see again, she may wish that she was never able to.

What did I think?:

All I can say is WOW, what a story. I am a big fan of Daphne Du Maurier’s and this second story in her collection, The Breaking Point, definitely didn’t disappoint. It opens in a private nursing home where a woman, Marda West is recovering after an operation to restore her sight. As we meet her, is is recovering in “the anonymity of darkness,” with bandages around her eyes, her loyal husband by her side, and a host of staff to care for her. This includes a confident surgeon, a nurse that represents the sunshine to her during the day, and a kindly nurse at night to rely on whenever she pushes the bell for help, or just for some comfort during those dark few days when she cannot remove the bandages. She is terribly worried all the time that the operation has not worked, and that she will not be able to see, but she is reassured by all the staff that this will not be the case. She is told however, that the blue lenses she has in now are temporary and will allow her to see in black and white, but will be replaced by more permanent ones that will restore her full colour vision.

And then the bandages come off.

I’m not going to spoil what Marda sees for those that haven’t read this story, but believe me, it completely freaked me out! I don’t remember having read this story before (I think I would remember!) but the premise felt slightly familiar so perhaps I read about it somewhere yet forgot. I’m glad I did, because it had exactly the right effect on me, and I am still thinking about it and probably will for a few days yet.

Marda is very confused by what she sees, and is even more bewildered by the reaction of the staff or her husband who is also slightly different… they don’t seem to see what she sees, which makes her think she is hallucinating or even worse going insane. All she is told is that her new lenses may make her see people the way they really are, which is frightening to say the least. She manages to escape from the nursing home, but then everything goes dark and she re-awakens back on her hospital bed. She has undergone a second operation to fit the permanent lenses, and her surgeon is by her side, explaining that there was a problem with the temporary lenses pressing on a nerve, which may have led to her strange visions. What a relief, things look to be back to normal for Marda, and she can see in bright, vivid, technicolour….

And then she looks in the mirror…

The eight stories in this collection were written by du Maurier at a very sensitive time in her life. Her husband had just undergone a mental breakdown and she had discovered that he had an affair. At this time, she felt like she was teetering on a breaking point herself, and these powerful emotions definitely come across in her stories. The Blue Lenses captured my attention from the beginning right to the dramatic and horrifying finale, and I can’t recommend it enough. Brilliant writer, brilliant story – what else is there to say?! 

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: Black Dust by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

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