Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
First Published: August 1938
I’m so excited to be finally writing the review for Rebecca! I have loved this book from start to finish and it made it more enjoyable reading it with my book group! This is going to be quite a long one because I have a lot of thoughts about this book and I really just need to write all of them down. Don’t worry there won’t be any spoilers for those of you who want to read it.
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realises how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.
What I Liked
“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”
Rebecca was first published in 1938 and even though it’s a classic and has been around for many many years, I never heard much about the story. I also found it extremely weird that the day I started reading it, the film adaption came out on Netflix. But on with the book! This has everything I love in a book. Dark twists, engaging story, likeable characters, well sometimes when they don’t infuriate me with their decisions and it even has dogs! Because it was a buddy read, I had to find the willpower to put the book down after I had finished that weeks section. I’m glad I did as I was really able to take in the story and the characters.
“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”
The story starts with us reading from the pov of the narrator. A young girl and paid companion of Mrs. Van Hopper, a wealthy woman who really only cares about class. Before her trip is up, she meets and begins to spend time with a mysterious, handsome widower, Maxim de Winters. Both their interests in each other peak quickly and he offers her a way out of her paid companionship with marriage. At this point, I was a little confused regarding the character’s ages. I know the narrator was young and Maxim was quite a few years older. The narrator’s age is never specifically mentioned (that I remember) but is made aware by there being such an emphasis on her child-like behaviour.
Once in Manderley, things for the new Mrs de Winters, the only name we know her as, do not go as easy as she first thought. The presence of Rebecca still lingers in the house, the rooms, the cottage down by the beach and the housekeepers, especially Mrs Danvers. She torments herself daily with visions and imaginary conversations of the former Mrs de Winters, never allowing herself to be happy.
The story was engaging throughout, there was always something tense or suspenseful and some parts were awkward but I still enjoyed reading them. There is basically no romance, it is purely a mystery & thriller so if your not a keen reader of this genre, this probably won’t be the book for you!
“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.”
The only criticism I have for this book is the narrator’s character. I love how we never find out her name as Rebecca is clearly the main character throughout. But, her decisions worry me a little bit and really did infuriate me sometimes like I said before. Although I didn’t like this, I still understand why she chose/did/say what she did. She wanted to fit in and be loved by Maxim, but it must be extremely hard to live in somebody else’s shadow.
Her and Maxim’s relationship is definitely a weird one. He seemed to be interested in her during their visit to Monte Carlo and after their honeymoon, they are meant to spend their days as husband and wife. However, when they return to Manderley, he is moody and withdrawn from the narrator, making her feel child-like and isolated. Despite everything though, I still find him to be one of my favourite characters.
Mrs Danvers. Lets all talk about her for a minute. She is Rebecca’s former housekeeper and they were extremely close. Mrs Danver’s or Danny as she was referred to, worshipped the ground Rebecca walked on. But she is wicked, especially to the narrator. I couldn’t find a moment in the book where I liked her. I don’t mean I disliked her character at all, I loved her involvement and addition to the story, just as a person, she is not someone I would ever want to meet.
There were a lot of side characters that I liked, but it was very rare we learned much about them.
“Boredom is a pleasing antidote for fear“
Overall, I loved this book, it’s clear to see! This book is captivating, creepy and suspenseful in all the right places, definitely one of my favourites reads this year (I’m saying that a lot this year). I am going to give Daphne Du Maurier’s other novels a go to see if I enjoy them as much or more than I did with Rebecca. This book has opened up a love for gothic novels and classics for me and I will be researching some books to add to my tbr! If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments and I would also love to know your thoughts on Rebecca if you have read it!
I highly recommend to anyone who loves mystery, thrillers and gothic novels. Or even if you like some of the classics!
Buy the book here
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