Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Rebecca" By Daphne du Maurier

This book is essential literature for every girl, woman, and grand dame. It is a classic, but not ye olde archaic language classic, and is easily understood by the modern human. It isn't very intimidating in terms of page count, either, at a meager 357 pages. This, along with the suspense and mystery of the book, makes this a relatively easy read in terms of the classics.

"Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

That is one of the best and most recognizable one-line openings to a novel. It engages you from the start, and sets the stage and locale for much of the novel.

The Plot:
We meet our unnamed heroine, who narrates the novel, at her occupation as a lady's companion. They are introduced to Mr. Maxim de Winter over coffee, who is less than thrilled to be conversing with her lady, and makes sharp comments which he later apologized for in a handwritten note. Her employer thankfully falls ill, leaving her to knock over a vase and end up lunching with Mr. de Winter, later taking a car ride with him to the ocean.

The courtship in this book goes swiftly, as romances did back in the day. They arrive at Manderley, his ancestral home, after their wedding and honeymoon. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, is set on keeping everything just like it was when Rebecca, the former Mrs. de Winter, was alive. (Rebecca died in a boating accident, though mysteriously.) She also lauds the deceased Rebecca on just about everything, implying that our heroine is not even in the same stratosphere as Rebecca and is not at all fit to be the mistress of Manderley. Our heroine throws in the towel, and decides it's better to keep everything as Mrs. Danvers likes it, despite her own preferences.

The new Mrs. de Winter begins to think Maxim was not at all in love with her in the first place, but rather in need of someone to look after Manderley. And suspicions begin to arise as to what really happened to Rebecca...

Why I Love It?
Rebecca is a sinister tale of mystery and romance. I can only imagine when it was released, people may have thought this was a bit edgy for its time. It is about people who are dead, but still manage to haunt and manipulate from beyond the grave. It is about a place that haunts your dreams. It is superbly atmospheric, perfectly paced, and devastatingly lovely.

The Rating: This should come as a shock. 5 out of 5 stars.

Content: There is relatively little to object to, but a bit of violence. 16 years and up.

Page Count: 357 pages in my 1951 hardcover. Newer editions may be different.

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