Rebecca, written by Daphne du Maurier, is honestly one of my favourite books. I often forget how much I adore this book because it is currently in storage at home whilst I am at uni. When I move again I will rectify this situation.
I would say that you have to struggle through the first half of the book for it to become interesting. I think I would happily say if you enjoy Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte than you will enjoy this book. I find this story far more accessible than Jane Eyre, although that is not the most difficult book from that time.
This story is essentially about the relationship of a man who is powerful and a woman who is not.
So the basic plot summary is, poor young girl is picked out of a crowd (figuratively) by a much older man (more common in that situation, although her age is often commented on) a whirlwind romance and marriage take place until he takes her back to the formidable Manderley.
The man of this story is the handsome Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter. Charismatic and charming the inexperienced nameless narrator falls head over heels, unbelieving of the love this man has for her. Everything seems perfect in the hotel where they meet, and although she is warned by the woman she is staying with to be careful of powerful men, the narrator does not seem worried.
When they return to Maxim’s manor house Manderley, fictitiously set in the countryside of Cornwall, all is not well. The housekeeper Mrs Danvers is hostile to Mrs de Winter and makes the task of running the house very difficult. She forever refers to Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife, questioning every decision made by the new mistress of the house.
The turning point in the novel for when it becomes really interesting is at the costume ball. So as not to give spoilers, it goes disastrously wrong and Mrs Danvers is behind it all. From here, shit really does hit the fan.
This story focuses on jealousy and miscommunication. Maxim essentially shuts out our narrator when they return to Manderley, allowing her to become insecure in the household, mainly due to Mrs Danvers. Our narrator believes that Maxim does not love her and is still in love with his dead wife. As well as not having the support of the household, our narrator is compared to Rebecca physically. Rebecca was a great beauty, whereas our narrator is small and boy like almost. We are given very little description of our narrator but there is always a sense that she is plain. All of these insecurities lead to the inevitable conclusion.
It is also important to focus on the decision for the nameless narrator to be called ‘the second Mrs de Winter’ by members of the household, particularly the housekeeper Mrs Danvers. This is a constant reminder that there was a previous wife, also creating a hierarchical structure in the house where the dead wife is placed above our narrator.
The first chapter is one of the most beautiful and engaging chapters I have read. The haunting and famous first line ‘last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’ gives the sense of pain and trauma right from the start. The journey through the charred and broken remains of the house is beautiful and again haunting, a mirror of Rebecca and her hold on the house. Destruction and loss are key to this book and are established at the very beginning. The last line of the chapter ‘For Manderley was ours no longer. Manderley was no more’ sets the tone as one of inescapable misfortune, the reader knows that Manderley will fall.
This story is a real page turner. I couldn’t wait to see how it would resolve itself and what twist was coming out of the next dark shadow. It is a book which makes you feel suffocated alongside the narrator by this image of the dead Rebecca. After the first half it is fact paced and action packed. A thoroughly amazing read which I think all book lovers should read.
So yeah, that’s kinda what I think 🙂
Happy reading xx