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SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE:Du Maurier's daughter fears Lily will steal show

by Liliana Fraser (2020-11-03)


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Few stories have even a fraction of its addictive magic.

But the latest adaptation of Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier's unsettling masterpiece, threatens to be damagingly eclipsed by the off-screen shenanigans of its star, Lily James, says the author's elder daughter, Lady Montgomery.

Tessa Montgomery urges those watching the Netflix film, in which Downton Abbey star Lily plays the ingénue second wife of Maxim de Winter, with Kristin Scott Thomas as the disquieting Mrs Danvers, to immerse themselves in du Maurier's story. 

'I think all of us should just take Rebecca for what it is and not let it be marred by who's playing it,' Lady Montgomery tells me.

Daphne du Maurier and her daughter Tessa Montgomery (left) — aged 17

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It's barely a fortnight since Lily was seen in Rome amorously embracing the married Dominic West, who has five children.

Refraining from naming whoever might be 'marring' Rebecca, Lady Montgomery says she is 'absolutely looking forward to seeing it' and adds: 'I'm sure my mother would be very pleased.'

But Tessa thinks the fiercely private du Maurier would have been dismayed by accusations this week that her relationship with her father, West End star Sir Gerald du Maurier, teetered into physical intimacy, and talk of incest became 'a recurrent theme' in her final decades.

It's barely a fortnight since Lily James (pictured in Rebecca) was seen in Rome amorously embracing the married Dominic West, who has five children

Armie Hammer, left, and Lily James in a scene from 'Rebecca', out now on Netflix

'I've suffered this all my life —things that are not true or have been exaggerated,' reflects Tessa, whose husband, Viscount Montgomery, died this year.

'One just has to put it on one side and develop a thick skin.'

Du Maurier had two other children: Flavia, known as Flave, and Christian, known as Kits.

A family friend tells me the truth will only come out 99 years after the birth of her youngest — Kits, who is now 80.
'More will be revealed when the embargo on Daphne's private diaries is lifted,' he explains, 'in 2039.'