Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Book Revisited: Rebecca


A Book Revisited is an on/off weekend series hosted here. If you'd like to join the meme, just grab the image above and post about a book you've read in the past that (as far as you know) has had zero or little mention in the book blogosphere. It must be a book you enjoyed and recommend. I understand that it's sometimes not possible to remember everything about a book you've read years ago so just write a brief summary or review and leave a link in the comment section below.



Since I've been having a sort of unplanned Daphne du Maurier revival of my own, I thought I'd choose Rebecca for today. It's one of my favourite novels and probably one of the best books ever written. From its very first sentence, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," du Maurier draws you into this hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable novel. 

Rebecca (1938) is a romantic and psychological mystery novel about secrets in a house called Manderley. When the young and naive unnamed narrator moves to Manderley after her whirlwind marriage, she finds a house filled with memories of the beautiful and elegant Rebecca, the first Mrs. DeWinter.

"When the leaves rustle, they sound very much like the stealthy movement of a woman in evening dress, and when they shiver suddenly and fall, and scatter away along the ground, they might be the pitter, patter of a woman's hurrying footsteps, and the mark in the gravel the imprint of a high-heeled satin shoe." (page 9)

The hostile and frightful housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers has an obsessive love for her dead mistress and treats the new Mrs. DeWinter unkindly further propelling the young girl's insecurities. Meanwhile, Maxim, Mr.DeWinter, is secretive and distant. Rebecca may be dead but her presence permeates the house in forbidden rooms and chilling passageways. The tension escalates as the new Mrs. DeWinter slowly starts to unravel the truth about Rebecca while at the same time growing in confidence and maturity.

As usual du Maurier writes wonderfully in her beautiful and expressive prose. I can't praise her genius enough. With Rebecca she has managed to write a book where the main character is already dead. How clever is that? The plot twists and turns but du Maurier manages it all beautifully never abandoning her atmospheric and descriptive writing style. The storyteller remains unnamed from start to finish, but that's just another reason for the beauty of this novel. All we know is that she has an unusual name. For those of you who have read this book, don't you still wonder what her name was?

I do think it's a shame if you haven't read Rebecca yet but at least you have this to look forward to. Read this book...it's a truly wonderful experience.

18 comments:

  1. I can't even remember when it was that I read Rebecca, it must be ages. I should probably see about reading it again. Thanks for reminding me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is absolutely one of my all time favourite books. I love the language, I love the imagery and I love the opening line. I had to read this book during High School for english class and I think I read it within a couple of days. Ever since, probably for the last 10 years, I have read it at least once a year. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rebecca is one of my favorites.... and I really enjoy this feature!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great selection, of course! Have you read "Rebecca's Tale" by Sally Beauman? It's a very well thought out, well written "back story" of Rebecca's life told by Dr. Julian. I quite enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just loved this book, and also liked Jamaica Inn by this author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I know I've told you before, but I love your black and white button for this meme. So pretty.

    You know, I have never read REBECCA. I really should I know. I've seen the movie and enjoyed it, but I promise I will pick up the book this year and read it. Thanks for highlighting it. I love this meme!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been meaning to read this for a while. I actually checked it out from the library and started to read it, but was so overwhelmed by the composition of the actual book. Like the font type, size, etc. I need to find a copy that works for me, as I've heard so many great things about it. Thanks for propelling my motivation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Tessa-Scoffs - I haven't read Rebecca's Tale. I'll check it out.

    @Diane - I still haven't read Jamaica Inn. I remember I started it years ago as a teenager but the imagery was so frightening that I soon abandoned it. I'll definitely try it again soon.

    @Kay & She- I know you'll both love Rebecca so do read it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this book as well and count it as a favorite. I reread it a year or so ago and think I appreciated it even more the second time around. She was a marvelous writer and if you've not read any of her short stories, I highly recommend them! I plan on rereading My Cousin Rachel, soon!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Rebecca was the first duMaurier book I ever read, and it spoiled me completely. I've never liked any of her other books nearly as much - in the back of my head I think I always expect them to be another Rebecca, and they never are. (Alas!)

    ReplyDelete
  11. That little bit you quoted is one of my favourite parts.

    I can't recommend Rebecca enough to anyone who's never read it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I adore Rebecca - I read it for the first time when I was at university for some indulgent reading and it satisfied my craving for a good story entirely.
    It is my favourite Du Maurier although Frenchman's Creek is good.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I couldn't agree with you more. Rebecca sits in my top ten list of all time favorite reads. I just re-read it back in February and loved it all over again!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Rebecca is wonderful Easily one of my favorite books as well.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Rebecca was my very first Du Maurier. I think I was 18 or so. I didn't know anything about it beforehand. I couldn't believe how good it was!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I picked out a handful of books to re-read this year and this was one of them. I absolutely love it!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My Cousin Rachel is another wonderful Du Maurier book. I love the ambiguity over whether Rachel is good or nefarious.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just read this one for the first time recently and adored it! (I have a review posted on my blog). I totally agree about the first line - it's truly memorable and sets the tone for the rest of the novel. It's KILLING me not to know what the narrator's name is! I wrote a paper on this book for school and I cannot tell you how hard it is to write about someone with no name. "The unnamed narrator in Rebecca...", "The nameless heroine..." - blah blah - I felt so repetitive lol =) Great review of this classic novel!

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails