What’s The Chamois all about?:
The penultimate story in this collection follows a married couple as they trek up the mountains in Greece to hunt down the elusive chamois.
What did I think?:
When I think about Daphne du Maurier it is in almost goddess qualities and am in the process of reading everything she has ever written. However, it was bound to happen one day – a story that I confess to being a little disappointed by! The story concerns a (perhaps unhappily) married couple with the wife as our narrator for the duration. Her husband, Stephen is absolutely obsessed with the creatures known as chamois, not the fuzzy wuzzy “like to look at pictures of them” obsession unfortunately, he enjoys hunting them and displaying their heads as trophies on his walls. For anyone who doesn’t know what they are (and I had to look them up myself) they are part of the goat-antelope family and are native to mountains in Europe, although they have also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand.
The beautiful and reclusive chamois
“Zoo 042 edited” by Dmano at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zoo_042_edited.jpg#/media/File:Zoo_042_edited.jpg
Du Maurier writes our narrator in a wonderful way to the extent where I felt as if I knew her personally. She is obviously unhappy with her husband yet still maintains an undeniable attraction to him even if she wonders sometimes why they are together in the first place. His mania for tracking down and hunting the creatures is becoming unhealthy, to the point where he cancels a holiday with his wife in Austria when he hears that the chamois have been spotted in the mountain ranges of Greece. Although frustrated with his “little hobby,” our narrator goes along with him to Greece to meet up with the persons that first heard about/spotted the animals, sleeping in the roughest of conditions at high altitude with only the owner of a small store, a rat-faced cook and a very creepy bug-eyed goat-herd for company, the latter giving her the chills with his eerie whistling, staring and obvious disapproval of the couple. He is certainly a character that has remained in my mind long after finishing the story, for more reasons than one…
Unfortunately, the couple are left with just the goat-herd in the end, for it is he who knows the mountain ranges and where the chamois may be hiding the best. It is here that the unravelling present in all the stories in this collection finally begins to take place. We find out exactly why Stephen is so obsessive over the chamois, we see a troubled marriage begin to knit itself together again and we see a whole new side to our narrator that I really didn’t see coming.
Even though I mentioned that this story disappointed me slightly (and that was in the ending) it’s still a brilliant and fascinating piece of writing that explores a marriage from breaking point to an eerie kind of resolution and remembrance of love that had been shared in the past. Stephen is so very unlikeable as a character, which actually made him more interesting to me but it was the wife who really intrigued me by the end of the tale. Saying that, there was so much potential for the story to go into the stratosphere excitement wise and I was pretty crestfallen when the ending came as it was nothing like what I hoped for. What I cannot deny however is the strength and beauty of the writing and I’m definitely optimistic for the final story in the collection!
Would I recommend it?:
Maybe – until the end!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: Under The Pylon by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening