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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (final thoughts)

August 12, 2010

Anyone who claims that classics are boring and dry has obviously not read Rebecca. Published in 1938, the story is told primarily through flashback as the unnamed narrator recalls her time at the grand manor and estate of Manderley. As a young, unexperienced woman working for a wealthy American, she meets a wealthy older man, Maxim de Winter, who has recently been widowed. He takes a liking to her and soon she becomes the new Mrs. de Winter. After a wonderful honeymoon abroad, he brings her back to his English home, Manderley. Mrs. de Winter has visions of being the elegant lady of the house, of grand parties and walks through the garden with Maxim. However, once they arrive she realizes how much of a fish out of water she is. It doesn’t help that the late Mrs. Rebecca de Winter was a beloved strong woman. Everyone and everything seems intent on reminding the new Mrs. de Winter that she doesn’t measure up. Everywhere she turns, it’s Rebecca, Rebecca, Rebecca.

I stayed up late one night to finish Rebecca, and the next day my head was still spinning from it. Let me tell you, du Maurier sure knows her way around a plot twist. I had to process it for a few days to finally decide what I thought of it. My conclusion? I loved it! Instead of filling up the rest of this post with “Love! Love! Love!” let’s dissect those three Loves a bit.

Love #1: Unnamed narrator. Du Maurier does this so well, that had I not known that the narrator was unnamed going in to the book, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. At least not until I had to talk about the book (so, not until this post), and I would have been all “The book is about… er… what’s-her-face… you know… that one…” There’s a note from the author at the back of my edition of Rebecca where du Maurier explains that she didn’t name her narrator because at first she couldn’t think of a name that fit and then it became an interesting challenge of technique.

Love #2: The suspense. I don’t read many mysteries or thrillers, but I loved how the suspense builds throughout the story. With each revelation and plot twist, the suspense grows and expands and you cannot stop reading. Plus du Maurier has this ability to make you want people to get away with things you would otherwise not be okay with. And then you are on tenterhooks because ohmygoodness-they-are-so-close-to-realizing-the-truth. Yeesh.

Love #3: The house and weather’s roles. They both play an integral role in Mrs. du Maurier’s feeling of being unwelcome and in building suspense. The sensation of being watched from the high, second story windows. The anticipation and onset of a big storm. The fog rolling in from the sea after a disastrous night. Everything works together with the story so perfectly.

Did not love: Mrs. de Winter during her first few months at Manderley. She was so naïve and insecure and trusting. I wanted to take her by the shoulders and give her a little shake: “Mrs. Danvers DOES NOT have your best interests at heart! How do you not already know that?” However, the prologue indicated that she does eventually mature and develop some confidence and it was quite satisfying to watch that happen. Mrs. de Winter wasn’t necessarily unlikeable, but it was the secrets that Manderley held that kept me reading.

This was my first du Maurier, but I definitely want to read more. What do you recommend?

My rating: 9/10. Highly recommend this one!

Soundtrack Saturday
Buy One Book and Read It 6/6

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 12:30 pm

    This is such a great book, and I’m so glad you loved it! I see your point about the protagonist being almost too naïve, but I could actually relate to her shyness and social ineptitude, so that aspect of her character worked for me.

    • August 12, 2010 12:58 pm

      I could related to that for the most part, too. Climbing out a window to avoid a group of strangers? Definitely something I would do. But it almost became too much, especially how trusting she was. However, it wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the book. It was just one little annoyance in a sea of awesomeness.

  2. taraSG permalink
    August 12, 2010 1:18 pm

    I don’t read many classics, but I think I need to start throwing more in my TBR. This one is now added! Thanks for the great review!!

  3. August 12, 2010 5:44 pm

    I loved the unnamed narrator (er, that is, I loved the unnamed-ness of the narrator), and when I reread I kept catching little teases that du Maurier put in there about the protagonist’s name.

  4. August 12, 2010 5:55 pm

    Awesome review! This one of my favorite books. It’s one of my favorite movies too. Finally an explanation for the unnamed narrator. I always thought that the unnamed thing was brilliant, but still wondered why. Keep it shiny!

  5. August 13, 2010 10:27 am

    I loved this book and I think I was at least a third of the way through it before I realized that the narrator was unnamed. She did that so well! My husband had been trying to get me to read Rebecca for a decade and I’m so glad I finally did.

  6. August 13, 2010 2:00 pm

    I just listened to this one. And I loved it, too! And yes, I wanted to shake the narrator at times.

  7. August 13, 2010 2:14 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try this book. It’s a total classic – I’ve heard. Will have to try this one…it does sound really good.

  8. August 13, 2010 3:09 pm

    I loved Rebecca! I had not ever heard of it until I read about it online. It took me awhile to get to it, but it was worth it.

  9. August 14, 2010 3:36 am

    So happy to see somebody reviewing this book! I remember my mom renting the movie when I was little, one of my all time favorite movies and such a good book!

  10. August 14, 2010 5:04 am

    I haven’t read this one but I heard great things, I am currently reading “Those Old Shades” by Georgette Heyer, published in 1926 and it’s an amazing read, entertaining, witty, absolutely not boring.

  11. August 15, 2010 8:50 pm

    OHHHHHH! Look at this review. I have to pull this off the shelf and read it. I have to. I HAVE TO. :D

  12. August 16, 2010 1:05 am

    Definitely putting this on my list of classics to read. Your review was amazing.

  13. August 16, 2010 3:07 am

    Fantastic review, definitely makes me want to dust off my copy and finally read it :-)

  14. August 16, 2010 3:23 am

    I loved this book too. I read it when I was in 8th grade, and I was timid and naive, even for a 13-year-old, so I related to those aspects of the narrator’s character. :-) Wonderful review!


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