Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book 2- "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier

Writing this particular entry is going to be difficult, though not in the same way that the last one was. The entry for "The Beautiful and Damned" was hard to write because I thought the book was kind of awful. "Rebecca", however, was amazing. Couldn't put it down. And now I have to try to write about it without giving anything away, because I think everyone should read it.

"Rebecca" starts out with my second favorite opening line of all books I've ever read: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." (For those of you who are now curious, my favorite opening line of all time is to "The Gunslinger," the first of the 7 Dark Tower novels by Stephen King, which opens "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.") The first chapter is largely the main character/narrator (who is never actually given a name) recounting her dream. She then talks of present day life, with her and her husband having left Manderley, never to return, and the emotions that are stirred by memories of their former home. She leads the reader into the idea that something evil and or tragic happened there, without being too blatant or bold and without giving anything away.

Most of the book is spent recounting the relationship and marriage of the narrator and Maxim de Winter, the millionaire owner of Manderley, a renowned estate in England. He is somewhere around 20 years older than the narrator, and their relationship begins innocently enough, but after a short period of spending a lot of time together, he proposes and then marries the narrator. She is his second wife; the first wife, Rebecca, is believed to have drowned a year prior.

The narrator, who is from here on out referred to only as "Mrs. de Winter", moves to Manderley with Maxim after a long honeymoon in Italy, and is completely out of her element. She is an orphan and was raised very simply, so suddenly becoming the head of an estate is a complete culture shock. She relies heavily on Mrs. Danvers, who serves as the head of the house staff, despite Mrs. Danvers' obvious dislike of her. Mrs. de Winter, upon meeting the staff, family, and friends of her husband, starts to feel more and more in the shadow of Rebecca, and inadvertently begins digging around in Rebecca's past, trying to learn more of her life and more about her death. Her husband is reluctant to speak about Rebecca at all, so much of what she learns about Rebecca is from the staff, the devoted Mrs. Danvers, and local acquaintances, all of whom paint a picture of a regal, personable, beautiful woman who is greatly missed. But there are hints throughout that there is more to the story of Rebecca, and that there is more than meets the eye.

I'm not going to say much more about the plot of the story, because I don't want to reveal anything about the ending-- you'll have to read it for yourself (and are welcome to borrow my copy.) I began reading it Monday morning and finished it very early Tuesday morning, unable to go to bed without finding out what happens to everyone (which is a problem I have with books in general-- I have a hard time knowing when to stop.) I have to admit, after "The Beautiful and Damned" it would have been hard not to like ANY book that followed, but "Rebecca" was truly a fun, interesting, exciting read, and my week 3 book now has a hard act to follow.


Beth said...

This one has been on my reading list for a couple of years. I even picked up a copy at a used book store quite awhile ago. I'll be moving it up the list thanks to your recommendation!

Sharon said...

I'd like to take you up on that borrowing some day . . . after I finish the Jen's I have.