Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier; Discovering Daphne Readalong #5

So to end this years ‘Discovering Daphne’ season I begged and begged Polly to let us finish with ‘Rebecca’ as it is my favourite read of Daphne’s and indeed, I think, of all time so far. It was a toss up between this and Polly’s favourite ‘Jamaica Inn’ and Polly, being the lovely person she is, caved in. The thing was though, once I knew a ‘’Rebecca re-read’ was lined up I started to get really nervous. What happened if the book I loved suddenly felt flawed, what if I didn’t like the unnamed narrator this time or feel any empathy for her, what if Mrs Danvers left me cold, what if I didn’t find it as atmospheric and haunting? I started to get a little panicked.

9781844080380

Virago Books, paperback, 1938, fiction, 448 pages, from my bookshelves

After closing the final page of ‘Rebecca’ a few days ago it was a struggle not to head straight back to the start… yet again. If I could physically get lost in a book then ‘Rebecca’, and of course Manderley, would be the place I would be happy to be stuck in forever. From the very moment of those first immortal lines “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” to the final pages and THAT ending (no spoilers here don’t worry) I was hooked line and sinker and in for the long haul, and how it has made these long dark nights all the more bearable, and all the more haunting.

For those of you who don’t know the book, or its rather infamous plot, ‘Rebecca’ is a tale of ‘the other woman’ only in this case the other woman is dead – amazing, and clever, that she is one of the most formidable characters in the book and the lives of all those living who we join. The unnamed narrator tells her tale of how, when accompanying a rich American lady Mrs Van Hopper (who is a fabulous small character) on holiday, she meets Maxim de Winter and after a whirl wind romance marries him and finds herself back in England and the new lady of Manderlay, a wonderful gothic mansion. Yet once back in Maxim’s home his past, and indeed his previous wife Rebecca (and her mysterious death) come to haunt them, quite literally, along with a little help from the housekeeper Mrs Danvers.

Here I shall leave the story, for if you haven’t read it yet I don’t want to give anything further away, especially as this is a book which has some wonderful, and equally dreadful, twists and turns as it develops. I can say that on a re-read the unnamed narrator (who I once insisted was called Caroline after one re-reading) did annoy me a lot more than she usually does initially, not to the point where it affected the book, but I did think ‘oh get a grip love’ but then because of the psychological aspect of the book and indeed her situation as usual I did once more start to feel for her and could understand how some one like Mrs Danvers could so easily manipulate and scare a woman like her, she scares me.

One of my very favourite things about ‘Rebecca’ is undoubtedly Mrs Danvers, she’s psychotically obsessed with her former mistress and clearly has a dark background which we only get the vaguest notions of. She’s just wonderfully wicked and deliciously, dangerously demented. I have always thought because of her complexity and nature she is one of my favourite characters in fiction, unnervingly stealing the limelight on any page she appears. I have often pondered that I would love to write a fictional account of her life, I could never do it justice though I am sure.

Back to ‘Rebecca’ and along with its wonderful twists and turns, its atmosphere (which is incredible, you feel like you are there with these characters in this gothic, dark, spooky time and place which always, no matter how sunny or lovely come with a darkness in the corners) the one thing that I think makes it such an incredible story is what it says about people, the reasons they do things, the real motives and emotions both the dark and the light of the human condition. That probably sounds grand, but it’s true. There are lots of depths to a novel like this that lie behind what initially may seem a dark and gothic love story, which it also is yet is really so, so, so much more. In fact I would dare to suggest that this could be the perfect book, even if only for me.

As you have probably guessed by now I could easily ramble on about ‘Rebecca’ for hours and hours, I just hope if you haven’t read the book you might read this and pick it up/run for the nearest open book shop. If you have read it, maybe you will be tempted to pluck it off the shelves (because if you have read it I doubt very much you could have given it away) once more, and if you have re-read it for ‘Discovering Daphne’ I cant wait to see what you thought…

Actually I also can’t wait to see what Polly thought either, as she has been rather secretive about it until today.

16 Comments

Filed under Books of 2011, Daphne Du Maurier, Review, Virago Books

16 responses to “Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier; Discovering Daphne Readalong #5

  1. Carol N Wong (@Carolee888)

    I loved Rebecca. I was reading it in the ninth grade. The reason that I can remember was that my government teacher checked to see what book I had in my pile of text books. He groaned and said that it was trash!!! Wish he could read your review.

  2. I finished Rebecca this week and was planning to post on it today, but then I had a previous appointment with the Classics Circuit, so I have to save it for next week. It was my first tijme reading Rebecca and I can only say I agree that this will probably end up being a favourite of mine. I also wanted to start the book again right away, but I ended up only rereading the first few chapters realising I could well continue rereading forever😉

    The narrator did not annoy me, but then I relate to her awkwardness too much to shout at her to get a grip🙂

  3. I had want to reread this as I love it but not had time to squeeze it in I love the twist in the plot in this one one few by her I have read ,all the best stu

  4. Michael Borshuk

    Stumbled upon this from a list of book blogs and was immediately hooked. Look forward to reading more in the future.🙂

    best,
    MB
    http://michaelborshuk.blogspot.com

  5. This is still my favourite of Daphers’ novel and although I haven’t re-read it in a while, I still remember how atmospheric her prose is.

    • I think it will always be a favourite of mine full stop. I’m going to start My Cousin Rachel for book group in the next day or so and apparently that gives Rebecca a run for its money. We will see.

  6. Pingback: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier | Iris on Books

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  8. Old blog, but just to say that I bought ‘Rebecca’ off of your general love for it when I was listening to The Readers. Should be here in a day or two. Look forward to it.

  9. Pingback: Happy World Book Day 2016 | Savidge Reads

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