Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

Oh my goodness, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in so long! It’s like a gothic soap opera, but in the best possible way. It’s dark, atmospheric, melodramatic, and oh so decadent. Honestly, I don’t know why I only discovered this now.

From the very first sentence, which is one of the most famous opening lines ever written, I was totally immersed in the story. I got lost in the descriptions of Manderley. I wanted to walk those paths through the woods to the beach. I wanted to wander the halls and peer into rooms, long abandoned after Rebecca’s death. I wanted to touch, taste, and smell everything our heroine was experiencing. I wanted to sit by the fire in the Manderley library, watching the rain stream down the windows, and read this book until the end of time. Yes, it’s that good.

The characters in this book, especially the female characters, were utterly fascinating. Mrs Danvers sent chills down my spine and for most of the book, I found myself totally terrified of her, but then she also had these moments of incredible fragility and sadness. But just when I found myself sympathising with her, she would go back to being a manipulative hag. What a brilliant character. As for Rebecca, I could almost feel her presence in the room while I was reading. I could almost hear her malicious laughter and picture her at her desk writing her letters in her elegant, cursive script. In contrast to our timid, nameless, and ultimately forgettable narrator, Rebecca is someone who demands to be remembered, long after her death.

The book is often compared to Jane Eyre, but the dead Rebecca is much more vividly alive in Manderley than the madwoman in Mr Rochester’s attic ever was. In fact, she seems more alive than our little heroine, who seems to exist only to serve and appease others. Rebecca infuses every room with the strength of her personality, while our narrator flits through the house like a ghost, afraid to touch or disturb anything. Personally, I love that she remains nameless throughout the novel as it shows the extent to which her identity is subsumed by her husband’s and makes Rebecca seem all the more present.

Now I know there are a few Maxim de Winter fans out there, but I have to admit that I am not one of them. The whole time I was reading this book, I just wanted to slap him for being so condescending, brooding, and peevish. Yes, Mrs de Winter is portrayed as a sexless, child-like creature with very little personality, but that doesn’t mean that she should be treated as the human equivalent of a doormat. I mean, she is his wife after all. He asked her to marry him, not the other way around. This man who is more than twice his wife’s age never once calls her by her name, asks her how she is feeling, or gives her the freedom to form her own opinions. What a jerk. Ugh. It’s no surprise really that Rebecca turned out the way she did.

Overall, I cannot express how much I loved this book. In my opinion, it is the perfect book to read on a rainy day, while covered in blankets and sipping a hot cup of tea. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend adding it to your TBR. I just wish I had discovered it sooner.

Have you read Rebecca? Did you love it as much as I did? I would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂 

~Anna

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Anna

Anna. Melbourne. Bookseller. Student. Serial tsundokist.

18 thoughts on “Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier”

  1. I LOVE IT SO MUCH I AM WRITING MY ENTIRE COMMENT IN CAPS. OMG, HAVE YOU SEEN THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE? YOU MUUUUST! Also, I would love for you to read my review of Rebecca at https://grabthelapels.com/2016/07/11/rebecca/

    I review this last summer, before I had the pleasure of meeting you! This is another of those​ situations that make me wish we lived close by so we could watch the movie together and gossip and make comparisons. Aw, I just made myself sad. 😔

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    1. Aww, I would love to have someone to gush over this book with. It was just so much fun to read and I so wish I could go back and read it for the first time again. I still haven’t seen the film though – I definitely need to get around to it! I will let you know the minute I do. Thanks for stopping by to say hello. 😊 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I finally read Rebecca a couple of years ago, and I agree– it’s just as fabulous as its reputation. At first I was dismayed by the narrator’s passivity (especially with her rotten husband, as you say), but then realized how effectively her characterization illuminates the others. You’ve made me want to reread it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d definitely recommend a re-read. I feel like this is going be a book that I will read again and again. And I felt exactly the same way about Mrs De Winter 2.0!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad to hear you loved this, as it’s one of my favourite books – I’m planning to re-read it soon myself. I’ve been working my way through du Maurier’s other novels over the last few years and I’ve enjoyed almost all of them. I can second the recommendations of My Cousin Rachel, Frenchman’s Creek and The House on the Strand, and The Scapegoat is another great one. 🙂

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    1. I loved it so much! I hope you enjoy it as much the second time around. Thanks for all the recommendations – they are all going on Mount TBR. I was also recommended Don’t Look Now by a friend. Have you read it/do you know anything about it?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Don’t Look Now is a collection of short stories and is one of the only du Maurier books I still haven’t read yet. I’ve read some of her other short stories, though, and really enjoyed them.

      Liked by 1 person

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