The book which put "Svengali" into the English language. I had heard of this book long ago, of course, though i can't remember whether it was first from learning about Svengali or finding out that du Maurier was Daphne du Maurier's father. But i had never read it. In a way i'm glad i didn't, becuase that has given me the opportunity to read it now, for the first time. It has taken me a little longer than i might have expected, but was well worth the time. The story of the tragic Trilby, who cannot sing a note to save her life, and how she is moulded into the singer who takes Europe by storm, by the evil (?)(i'm not sure) musician Svengali, who uses mesmerism of some kind to play her as an instrument. The story is told from the persepective of three Englishmen who lived in Paris during the time Trilby was an artists' model, before she fell under Svengali's spell. The three, Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee, who was her fiancé at one point, briefly, are artists, of a sort; they love Trilby for herself, and are devastated when she is removed from them by events. Naturally, they are shocked by her reappearance in the world of Culture. But they are delighted at the possibility of renewing her acquaintance.
I could wish that du Maurier had not been so cute with his French as "spoken" by the English. I could wish that there is less French altogether, as it does slow down the reading ~ perhaps one reason "Trilby" isn't read any more (is it?). It does generate an atmosphere, though, and you begin to know what Western Europe was like in the middle years of two centuries ago. This edition, Dover, has over a hundred illustrations by du Maurier, who had made his name as a cartoonist for Punch. They are lovely, and add immeasurably to the book.