Finally Read: Rebecca

Aside from having a weird habit of asking for murderous books for Christmas, there’s nothing I like better at this time of year than curling up with a book that takes place at an English manor house.

I had the luxury of of a few days off ahead of the holidays this year. Once the presents were wrapped, the place was clean and we just had to wait for Santa to head this way, I decided that the time had come to read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

The kind of opening line that is immediately familiar even if you’ve never read the book before, that sends a delicious chill down your spine because you know good things are coming.

It’s hard to explain this book to the uninitiated. It’s one of those books that is so much better if you know next to nothing about it going in. Du Maurier lays the groundwork from the beginning, delighting in red herrings and confusion caused by the social cues of the day and the lack of any sort of communication. But make no mistake, the lack of communication doesn’t make what’s actually happening any less sinister.

A young woman is learning to be a professional companion in Monte Carlo when she meets the recently widowed Maxim de Winter. When Mrs Van Hopper becomes ill, the young woman is left to her own devices and finds her time taken up with driving excursions with Mr de Winter. At the end of two weeks she becomes engaged and after an Italian honeymoon, she travels back to Manderley as the second Mrs de Winter.

Once they get back, she is thrown into a lifestyle that she certainly didn’t grow up for. She’s now in charge of a grand old house, an entire county is looking to her to provide the kinds of entertainments that the former Mrs de Winter made the estate famous for. She has to deal with the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers who was completely devoted to the first Mrs de Winter and delights in undermining the new one.

Oh this book. I don’t want to say much more – if you haven’t read it, you should remedy that. If you have, you know what I mean. When you read the first line, you know it’s a big one but it isn’t until you finish the book that you realize how big that line is.

Rebecca is now most definitely on my list of all time favourite books. I can’t wait to read this again one day.

16 thoughts on “Finally Read: Rebecca

  1. I was so young when I read Rebecca, I could only identify with the poor mousy Mrs de W. I remember knowing it was a classic book and not being able to work out why, because it seemed so readable (my experience of classics being that they had to be “hard”). Anyway, back to Mrs de W, I remember her musing that you grew up when you no longer sobbed into your pillow at night, and I remember thinking – will I really stop doing that one day? That’s part (only one part) of the magic I think – two such extreme personalities in the two women portrayed with such detail. Glad you enjoyed and posted anyway!

    • I don’t know if I would have appreciated this book had I been younger? I’ve told my 18 year old sister to read it so maybe I will find out. I don’t know how old Daphne du Maurier was when she wrote it but either way, capturing two such women at either ends of the age spectrum is no small feat. Differences of situation, personality and experience all portrayed so well. Just a delicious read.

    • It’s got to be that Christmas is warm and cozy and just lends itself to reading creepy books. The juxtaposition of it is too delightful. I’m glad to hear that it was just as good when you re-read it. Maybe next time I will try and read it in the middle of the summer, see if it makes a difference.

      • There is also the film version of Rachel starring a very young Richard Burton. I suggest looking it up after reading the novel for comparison as it is a bit different. There is another fascinating novel she wrote involving time travel–I think it’s called The House on the Cliff. I’d like to see that one as a film adaptation.

  2. I am one of those people who have not read this book yet. I might have to remedy that this year. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. It gives me hope that all the hype over this books that I’ve heard over the years won’t lead to disappointment when I finally do read it. 🙂 Oh, and Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year!

      I know what you mean about book hype. Sometimes I steer clear of books that get a lot of hype for the same reason. This one totally deserves it and holds up really well over time, despite the fact that things have changed so much since it was written.

  3. Some of Daphne Du Maurier’s books can be read again and again. I love Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and The House on The Strand. The ones that follow close are Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek , The King’s General and The Scapegoat.

  4. Pingback: The Unofficial 2016 TBR Pile Challenge | The Paperback Princess

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s