Newest Review: ... wife who is kept alive by the housekeeper Mrs Danvers, who clearly worshiped the first Mrs de Winter. As you begin this novel, the read... more
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
Member Name: cyberem78
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
Date: 08/04/12, updated on 08/04/12 (47 review reads)
Advantages: Great story. Vivid characters.
Disadvantages: Flowery and feminine writing style at times which I found a little too much to bear.
I bought a Virago Modern Classics version of this which contains an introduction by author Sally Beauman. The description on the back of the book tells us how the heroine of the novel meets a "handsome widower" called Max de Winter who quickly proposes marriage. After accepting and becoming his wife the heroine finds herself living at the "ominous and brooding Manderley" where the memory of De Winter's dead wife is alive and burning thanks to the "fobidding" housekeeper Mrs Danvers.
When I first started reading 'Rebecca' I was a bit dissapointed and annoyed. The writing style is very feminine and romantic whilst the descriptive terms are often completely over the top. This is not the sort of writing I usually enjoy so I found it quite difficult to get past the first few chapters. If you are a patient and slow reader you may enjoy the poetic dreamlike descriptions of the Manderley house but I felt frustrated by them.
I also found the protagonist rather difficult to like even though I could identify with her position. She is an unnamed young woman who narrates her experiences and at times I felt like I was hearing the summer holiday journals of a socially inadequate fifteen year old. I found her shyness and subservience rather annoying and the relationship with the much older Max De Winter was a bit off in my mind, especially as he seems to treat her like a child for a lot of the time. It's only later in the story that I could justify the relationship as being valid and understandable.
As I progressed through the book I started to feel much more interested in the story. My interest was especially stirred once the just married heroine arrives at her new home in Manderley. Here the ghost of Rebecca emerges - not literally her ghost but the idea of the dead woman, of her imprint and her force. Rebecca's presence is everywhere in the house and she is also kept alive by the staff of the household. I began to get a deep sense of Rebecca and feel intimidated and entranced by her, much the same as our wimpering heroine does.
A great sense of suspense builds up in the story as you start to realise there are hidden elements to the story that are about to be uncovered. I loved the twists and turns in the plot and towards the end of the book could simply not put it down. There are many shocking and unforgettable moments in the story. I found all of the characters coming to life so vividly especially that of Rebecca, whom I imagined as a sort of Vivien Leigh/Scarlet O'Hara type. I also was surprised that Ms Danvers, who I imagined would be written as a monster of a woman, could be identified with and is very human and real.
I absolutely loved the very ending of the book as at the last moment everything we think has come to a conclusion is turned on it's head. I actually found myself laughing at the end. I found myself analysing things that had happened and reading certain situations one way or another. It's a novel that certainly makes you think. As soon as I'd finished the novel I went online to find cinematic adaptations of the novel but none that I've watched so far compare to reading the book. So, like Richard and Judy say, go and read the thing!
Summary: Unforgettable novel.