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