Short Stories Challenge – Ganymede by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Published May 31, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s Ganymede all about?:

In this collection of suspenseful tales in which fantasies, murderous dreams and half-forgotten worlds are exposed, Daphne du Maurier explores the boundaries of reality and imagination. Her characters are caught at those moments when the delicate link between reason and emotion has been stretched to the breaking point. Often chilling, sometimes poignant, these stories display the full range of Daphne du Maurier’s considerable talent.

In Ganymede, a classical scholar becomes besotted with a young waiter while holidaying in Venice with surprising  and unexpected results.

What did I think?:

Ganymede is the third story in this collection of tales by the great Daphne du Maurier, written at a time when she herself felt dangerously close to the edge of a nervous breakdown. I felt extremely wary when beginning this story, purely because the previous two had been so excellent, and I feared my expectations were now set too high. Our main character is an older man who usually spends his holiday in August relaxing and reading at his sister’s house. Unfortunately his sister is not able to accommodate him this year and encourages him to go abroad so our protagonist decides to travel to Venice for a bit of a change. I had the pleasure of visiting Venice myself a few years ago so I was excited to see the beautiful city again from our narrator’s eyes and completely understood his experience of instantly feeling at home amidst the stunning architecture, intimate walkways and canals.

Our narrator decides to take in some music from a live band playing in the Piazza San Marco, where a young waiter called Ganymede immediately attracts his attention. He feels an instant rapport with the young man, as if he had known him all his life, and is delighted when the waiter appears to single him out for specific attentions. In fact, he becomes so enamoured with Ganymede that he returns night after night to see him and learns that he has a strong desire to work in London. Even better our narrator thinks, if he can pull some strings back home and acquire him employment in England, he might be able to see Ganymede all the time! What our narrator hasn’t factored in however, is an incredibly pushy Italian family that he also might have to foot the bill for. Even though our protagonist is now removed from his budget hotel and set up in a beautiful apartment by the uncle of Ganymede and has a direct phone-line to the young man so he can wait on him hand and foot, has he taken on more than he bargained for?

I don’t really want to say much more about the plot of the story but I have to rave about how surprising it turned out to be. As I was reading it I was enjoying the writing but I was unsure of exactly where the story was going as it didn’t feel like there was too much of a plot. Sounds confusing I know, but then I got to the end. I put the book down, frowned and then the reality of what I had just read hit me like a lightning bolt. I still can’t stop thinking about it now, it was truly mind-bending and very, VERY clever. I love when just one line at the end of a story makes you re-evaluate everything you have just read and immediately make you want to go back and read it again. Absolutely fantastic – the women is a genius, that much is clear.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Xenos Beach by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

2 comments on “Short Stories Challenge – Ganymede by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

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