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REVIEW: REBECCA by Daphne 'Du Maurier

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

As a Christmas Treat, I revisit one of the classic books of our time..


"Rebecca is a work of immense intelligence and wit, elegantly written, thematically solid, suspenseful.." —Washington Post
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . ."
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 realizes 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.
First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century


Some time ago, I decided that I wanted to re-read all my favourite books again. I love to re-read; it’s an acute pleasure quite different to that of reading a book for the first time. So each month I choose an old book off my bookshelves. This time it was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a book I remember devouring in my late teens but have not read again since. It was even better than I remembered. Utterly compulsive, the book moves with all the swiftness and inexorability of a Greek tragedy. It begins with the young and nameless narrator (so clever, to never tell the reader her name!) who falls in love and marries with a much older and more sophisticated man, and moves with him to Manderlay, his grand house in Cornwall. Max de Winter’s first wife, Rebecca, had died some months earlier in mysterious circumstances, and her personality is imprinted everywhere in the house. The new Mrs de Winter is shy and painfully awkward. She lives intensely in her imagination, and slowly finds herself obsessed with the former Mrs de Winter and with the mystery around her death.  The feeling of dread slowly tightens, and yet there are surprises around every corner. Brilliantly plotted and executed, Rebecca is an absolute tour-de-force. If you haven’t read it before, read it now. If you have, read it again. You won’t be sorry. 

Tracey Byrne commented on 02-Mar-2017 02:00 PM
Hi Kate,
I agree with your review of Rebecca. It is a wonderful story and one that I love to recommend to teenage girls. They are enthralled by the shy narrator and her awkwardness, and the mysterious natures of Rebecca and Mrs Danvers. The young narrator is clearly not in Rebecca's league, and so we all wonder what made Maxim choose her for his second marriage?
A story which is a winner from start to finish.

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