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.