Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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Wow, you guys. Wow.

THE WRITING. THE GLOOM. THE AIR OF SUSPENSE. THE BEAUTY. There is so much I enjoyed about this book. Why don’t I read more things written in the 1930’s?

Rebecca is told through the eyes of an un-named narrator, a young girl who marries widower Maxim de Winter and is brought to his beautiful estate, Manderley. But at Manderley, the spirit of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, is still strong – her rooms are kept untouched, her scent still lingers in the air, and her loyal maid Mrs. Danvers is still there, running everything as Rebecca liked. The new Mrs. de Winter sets out to discover more about this enigmatic Rebecca, to discover what really happened to her and uncover Manderley’s secrets.

The writing sucked me in the from the beginning. While not much is happening, the author has such a way with language that I just loved. I wrote down a LOT of quotes from the first 50 pages or so. And once Mrs. de Winter #2 arrives at Manderley, the mystery of Rebecca is teased wider and wider until it is blown right open and the second half of the book is full of anticipation and realization and excitement. I sat down with this book and easily read 100+ pages at a time without realizing it.

Daphne du Maurier did SUCH a fantastic job at making Manderley seem like a real place. Her descriptions of the house, the gardens, and the sea gave the estate a personality of its own. Just thinking about it, I get a feeling of Gothic creepiness and intrigue. I would totally take a trip there if it actually existed.

I only have one complaint, and it’s that the narrator, the unnamed second Mrs. de Winter, was a bit frustrating at times. She was a bit of a doormat in the beginning, and she had an annoying habit of imagining exactly what people were doing and saying about her, and she ended up psyching herself out and making herself MORE shy and timid. Eventually I learned to kind of skim those daydreaming sections, since they served little purpose and she was imagining entire scenarios in her head that weren’t really happening. And she eventually grew up a bit, so by the end I wasn’t quite so frustrated with her.

Another cool thing is that Mrs. Danvers (the housemaid) is a character featured in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, and now I know her story! I think clones of Mrs. Danvers are actually in the 5th Thursday book, First Among Sequels, which I’m going to start soon and that should be fun.

 Anyways this book was a total WIN for me. So glad that I added it to my Classics Club list, or I might never have gotten around to picking it up. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more Daphne du Maurier too – Jamaica Inn seems to be another popular one by her. Has anybody read that one?

 

Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

 

 

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35 comments

  1. I love this book! It’s one of my favourites and I plan on reading it again. I was hoping the narrator’s real name would be revealed at the end of the book, but oh well 🙂

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  2. Oh man, you’ve just reminded me how totally vivid Manderley actually is to me- as I was reading your review I could remember the exact picture I have of it in my brain 🙂

    The Second Mrs De Winter IS slightly frustrating, but I feel like you can’t really blame her, since she thinks she has this incredible person to live up to and she’s already lacking in self-confidence to begin with and yeah. So I get it, even if it is a bit like ‘ARGH, just get on with it, woman!’

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  3. Hi Sarah,
    Great post! Rebecca is one of my “go to” books when others ask me to recommend something to them. I note when they start reading, then patiently wait until they get to the big ‘reveal’ and contact me with their various omg exclamations. Always a fun moment.

    And I agree that the new Mrs. de Winter is frustrating, You summed it up perfectly with the word “doormat.”
    -Jay

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  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed Rebecca it is one of my favourite novels. I haven’t read Jamaica Inn but really want to. I am currently reading a short story collection by du Maurier called The Doll.

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  5. Gah! Why haven’t I read this? I don’t even think I put it on my Classics Club list. Good gravy.

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  6. I’ve never even thought to try this one, but I’ve heard people say great things about it. I don’t read enough classics, but I’ll have to bump this one up in my list of ones to try. 🙂

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    1. I got used to her. She wasn’t even necessarily illogical… I think what Laura said is pretty accurate, she had no self-confidence and then being surrounded by reminders of Rebecca just made it worse.

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  7. I’m so glad you liked it! I read it for the first time last year I think and absolutely fell in love with it and recommend it to everyone. It definitely made me want to read more by her. I haven’t picked up Jamaica Inn yet but I read Frenchman’s Creek and enjoyed that one a lot too. I also recommend the 1940s film adaptation of Rebecca as it’s quite creepy and gothic.

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  8. This book is completely awesome. Jamaica Inn is also very good. It’s equally as creepy and suspenseful and equally amazingly written. She has quite a few short story collections too which are really good. I think one might be called Don’t Look Now. Yes, I had a du Maurier phase in secondary school 🙂

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    1. I’m SO excited to try more by her. I think I’m going to try her other novels next, and if I love those then I’ll move on to her short stories. Short stories are really hard for me to get into, for some reason.

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  9. YAYYY! 😀 I’m so happy you liked it!! I absolutely loved this book! I hadn’t expected to, but like you said, the writing just drew me in and it was just awesome. I wasn’t as annoyed by the main character, she definitely needed to agonize a little less and step up for herself a little more, but I was ok with her growth overall 🙂
    I’ve heard My Cousin Rachel is really good as well, but I haven’t read it yet.

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  10. Hi
    I liked your review and thought the story took a while to unfold but once it did I was hooked! The narrator does take a while to get some confidence but she gets more as the story gets to the end. Shame she doesn’t get her happy ending. I wrote a review on my blog – anitasbookbag.wordpress.com – if you would like to check it out.

    Also Jamaica Inn is a great book too.

    Anita

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