Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
For starters, I think it's obvious that I was drawn to this book because of the title. For the record, I was NOT named after the book (as much I would love that). My name was a popular name in the 90's. According to my parents anyway.
Secondly, I won an award in my last year of secondary school. It was a governor prize awarded by the governors of my school, none of which I know. Basically, I won it because in the five years of my time there, my name kept cropping up for good reasons rather than bad. For the prize I got a trophy and £20 to spent on books of my choice. But they had to have a special value. I chose A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness because of the beautiful drawings included with the story and this, for obvious reasons.
So when I was asked by my college to read a 'Gothic Literature Novel' over the summer, I chose this (it's classed as a modern Gothic romance novel). I had been dying to read it to find out who was Rebecca. I was pleasantly surprised.
Synopsis: Working as a lady's companion in Monte Carlo, the heroine of Rebecca (who is never named) lives a dull life serving an ageing rich American heiress with no manners. This is until she meets Maxim du Winter, a wealthy English widow spending time in Monte Carlo after the death of his wife, Rebecca. After three weeks, she is proposed to by Maxim and taken from French society to the ominous Manderley where the legacy of Rebecca is being kept alive by the creepy housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who instantly takes a dislike to the heroine. Her new husband changes from a bright, happy man to a dark, moody stranger and she is constantly compared to the old Mrs du Winter. Soon, the heroine starts to discover the secrets, mystery and lies behind Rebecca's life and death and how she can never compare to the Other Woman.
Review: Books I have to read for college, I normally don't review but I felt this time, I should.
I started this book doubtful and after reading the start very slowly, I was starting to doubt my choice and presumptions. That I think is because I was only reading it every so often, a long busy journey here, a quiet lunchtime at work there. My first impression was completely wrong.
This book gripped me from start (when it picked up which is around when she goes to Manderley) to finish. I was absorbed by the mystery of Manderley, Mrs Danvers, the heroine, Rebecca, Maxim - my, even the dog, Jasper has a little of mystery and past about him.
There is plenty of lies, deceit and mystery to be getting on with in this book alone. I can see why this was made into a Hitchcock film, merely for that alone.
I don't have much to say. But that isn't in a bad way. Rebecca is a book that kept me up in the waking hours wanting to know why Maxim changed in his return to Manderley. Why no-one used the west-wing.
The characters, the writing (very old fashioned but still easy to read), the mystery, the beautiful locations, the plot. This is the perfect book to wrap up in the winter in bed or by a fire on a snowy day and just do something simple and read. Although you grow hate for a few characters in this book, in the end, I found something about them that made me feel for them.
This book is about discovering yourself and how secrets and lies can cause the worst situations. Although dead, the character of Rebecca is someone I would never have guessed from the beginning. Your first impressions, like mine of the book, will change for every single character.
This is an incredibly short review because as this was published in 1938, I think everything great about this book has already been said by other critics and readers. These are merely my first and main reasons for loving this book.
A fact which I hope says why this is a great book, despite it being 74 years old is this: Rebecca has never gone out of print.
'Last night I dreamt of Manderley' - I think any reader will after reading this.
I give it 5 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.dumaurier.org/
Publisher: Virago Press
Challenges: Historical Fiction, BBC
Tune back for my review of New Girl by Paige Harbison, a modern retelling of Rebecca