” I would you were enclosed in a house of stone so no man could speak with you. ”
—The Book of Margery Kempe
“This novella is about a woman, Anna, who is mesmerized by a mysterious sect who live in a secret world in the mountains in Central Europe. She joins them and disappears. The whole point of the story is that in her ‘Monte Verita’ Anna has found a spiritual happiness she could never find with a husband or any man. Sexual love between a man and woman no longer means anything to her, and all the young women who become part of her sect are now saved from ‘the turmoil of a brief romance turning to humdrum married life.’ What disturbed Victor most was that in the first version Anna, once she is safe in her Monte Verita, turns into a man. At Victor’s insistence, Daphne changed this and Anna remains a woman but, as he had picked up, the general drift of this highly metaphorical story is that there is something wrong with sex between men and women—it spoils relationships, it drains energy, it gets in the way of self-fulfillment.”
—Daphne du Maurier : The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller, Margaret Forster
A reimagining of Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 novella, of which writer Roger Dobson said, “more haunting than Rebecca, more bizarre than Don’t Look Now.” Du Maurier’s novella was itself based on a real Monte Verità in Switzerland, a commune that looked up towards utopia, preaching a more sustainable way of life, a return to nature. Here, a group of women tells of how they came to arrive at an isolated ashram atop a mountain and what life there has been like both before and after the death of their guru. The stories of the women slowly merge into a dreamlike monologue about the contradictions of breaking free of tradition and finally finding freedom under the watchful eye of a man.
A film by Gina Telaroli and Erin Espelie