Rebecca has been on my reading list for quite some time after I saw it mentioned in the comments of one of Paloma Faith’s music videos, Picking Up The Pieces, which has a distinct Rebecca-esque vibe. I fell in love with that song when it was released back in 2012 and since then, I vowed that I would one day pick up Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Finally, it has happened!
I write this review immediately after finishing the novel and I have to say, I am blown away. What a masterpiece. Du Maurier, you’re a genius.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…
Working as a paid companion to a bitter elderly lady, the timid heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life is bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise.
Whisked away from Monte Carlo to Manderley, Maxim’s isolated Cornish estate, the friendless young bride begins to realise she barely knows her husband at all. And in every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca.
Rebecca is a haunting story of a woman consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.
Just like how the ghost of Rebecca haunts Manderley, I believe that this story shall haunt me for a long while. It took me quite some time to finish this one, having to abandon it briefly for exams and then once more for required summer reading for my English Literature course. However, once I returned to the suspenseful and sinister world of Manderley, I devoured it.
Firstly, F*** Mrs Danvers (and Favell)! What a cruel woman! I don’t think I’ve despised a character as much I did her. I just wanted the second Mrs de Winter to run and tell Maxim exactly how horrid Danvers was so that she could get her just desserts. While we’re on the subject of staff, can I just say how much I adored Frank? Had our narrator not been married to Maxim, I would’ve been jolly happy to see her end up with Frank.
Rebecca‘s a complex and wonderful novel. Du Maurier has such a way with writing that makes us as a reader feel as though we’re there along with the unnamed narrator. We cringe and feel pity for her when she makes a mistake or when Favell (another villain of the piece) taunts her as we witness this horrifying story unfold piece by piece.
It’s initially a slow mover for sure which allows Du Maurier to set things up very cleverly, but can get a little cumbersome at parts. I was very quickly pulled in by the lush imagery she painted when describing Manderley, but it is the last few chapters that really sinks its claws into you and grips you. I hadn’t been overly fond of Maxim while reading, I felt he was particularly cold towards our unnamed narrator and I feel like him shutting her out and then the rush of admitting he loves her at the end was a little unreasonable. Truthfully, I had been hoping for more romance between the narrator and Maxim throughout so I was a little disappointed in that respect. However, when he does hit her with that revelation and we hear the kind of woman and wife Rebecca had been, I couldn’t help but feel for him and then root for him throughout the inquest.
Rebecca is a timeless gothic thriller and I have nothing but high praise for it. The ending did leave me a little high and dry, I wanted to know more about what happened to Manderley, I’m assuming that Danvers had a hand in its fate. Yet, overall, I think it’s a breathtaking piece of literature. If you’ve read any of Du Maurier’s other novels, please do let me know if they’re just as wonderful as this one!
Between Du Maurier’s Rebecca and the Sunday night phenomena on the BBC that is Poldark, I am tempted to take a trip to Cornwall soon so that maybe I, too, can stare broodingly at the coast.
Expect to see a Fancast Friday of this one very soon. Perhaps, too soon, while I’m still riding on the Rebecca high.