“‘Don’t look now,’ John said to his wife, ‘but there are a couple of old girls two tables who are trying to hypnotize me.'”
This collection of stories from Daphne du Maurier was originally called “Not After Midnight and Other Stories” but changed after the 1973 film version of the title story came out. The title story “Don’t Look Now” start with that absolutely tremendous opening line. John and his wife are vacationing in Venice some time after one of children has died. They have other children but this death hangs heavy over their heads and this holiday is an attempt to try to move forward in their lives. The two women are twin sisters from Scotland and conversation with them reveals that one of the sisters apparently has the gift of foresight. This sister tells the grieving couple that she can see the dead child playing in the space between them. John does not believe this vision, but his wife does, and this break causes further and further rifts in them as the story progresses.
Other stories from this collection tend to really lean into the idea of the pagan origins of much of Europe primarily with Greek paganism for the “Not After Midnight” story and Irish paganism for the story “A Border-Line Case”. In this story a young girl from England goes to Ireland after her father’s death to seek out an old friend of his who her father seems to have had some unfinished business with. In “Not After Midnight” an art school master gets embroiled in local intrigue on a Greek isles vacation. Other stories don’t stray too far from the Gothic feel of these other three.