Book Review : Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Author : Daphne du Maurier
Published By : William Morrow Paperbacks, and others
Year Published : 1938
Genre / Tags : Classics, Gothic, Psychological Horror, Mystery
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 441 pages (Paperback)

Summary

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Review

So before we start, fun Rebecca-related story.

When I was 12 years old I read Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews. It was the first “adult” book I had read. At the time, I was on the cusp of giving up on reading for pleasure because I struggled with not being interested in children’s books anymore yet not understanding adult books and not being able to relate to adult characters. This was a bit before the prevalence of YA.

Flowers was told from the point of view of a young girl my age and for that it had a profound effect. I became obsessed with V.C. Andrews books (they’re all largely told from teen/pre-teen girl perspectives, though perhaps not necessarily appropriate for young girls to read to be quite honest..) and found out that one of the author’s favorite books and one that had a strong influence on her writing was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

12-year-old me immediately made it one of her life goals to someday read that book. I was aware it was a classic and probably wouldn’t be easy to understand. Moreover, it was hard to find in bookstores and other titles eventually became a distraction. But Rebecca was always there in the distance, beckoning as a book I needed to read someday.

Many, many years later I finally happened upon a beautiful hardcover of it at a second hand shop. Finally it was time to read it. My mother also saw the book and was stunned and happy to find it.

Turns out Rebecca had been her favorite book as a pre-teen/teenager. She was born and raised in Thailand and had read a Thai translation of it. Rebecca was one of the few foreign books that had grabbed her attention. She went on to describe in vivid detail all of the great things she loved about it.

The big mansion, Manderley. The array of plot twists and mystery. The heroine and the hero and their complicated relationship. Many of the things I loved as a teenager about Flowers In The Attic, she loved as a teenager about Rebecca. We loved these two similarly gothic books while in countries vastly separated by time and distance and cultural differences. What are the odds?

I hope that wasn’t too long of a diversion.

Now, onto the review!

Rebecca’s greatest strength is its writing style. I’d read it after a long reading slump and had to take several breaks between the pages from sensory overload. I usually don’t like overwrought descriptions, but this book is very much an exception to that rule. The descriptions are beautiful and intense.

You know how in some books, every character comes off as being the same person with the same voice? Maurier’s characterization is the exact opposite of that. The characters are distinct, convincing, and elegantly portrayed. They feel real.

This is a reasonably approachable classic in terms of language, not unlike how The Portrait of Dorian Gray was for me. Wherein Dorian Gray’s character banter is timeless, Rebecca’s plotline is timeless. Without spoiling it, I’ll just say that a lot happens and hopefully you haven’t already encountered spoilers as there are many worthwhile turns along the way.

Sadly, I went into the book fully spoiled. Happy to state though that the impact was still very meaningful. Knowing what was going to happen resulted in a sort of added pondering about the possible double meanings of certain moments and appreciating the little hints along the way. For that, I’d classify Rebecca as having re-read potential.

One last thing of note- if parts seem boring or meandering, most of what occurs does indeed have connections to or make unique contributions toward the ending.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – A classic with a memorable storyline. One of the earlier and influential mystery/gothic novels. Stunning characterization and handling of vastly different types of characters. The writing is often beautiful. The ending is noteworthy.

Why You Might Not Like It – There is a sort of claustrophobic atmosphere in the day-to-day life of the main character. For that, this isn’t a conventionally pleasant read. There are some sections where it seems like little is happening.

Rebecca (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thanks so much for reading my review! Writing this reminded me I need very much to prioritize reading Jane Eyre, a similar novel. Have you read Rebecca or seen any of its adaptations? There seems to be another film adaptation in the making by Netflix for 2019! Do you have any interest in reading this book? I appreciate all of your thoughts.

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21 comments

  1. I absolutely love Rebecca! I read it for the first time as an adult last year and it was mind-blowing. I can’t figure out how I struggled with it as a teen – maybe I just wasn’t ready for it back then? Who knows? Anyway, it is now one of my favourites and I cannot wait to re-read it at some point.

    On the topic of adaptations, I’ve only ever seen parts of two adaptations, both of them UK based – the 1979 mini series (BBC) and the 1997 mini series (ITV). I find it funny that when I catch a glimpse at either of them, Mrs de Winter is portrayed by Joanna David or Emilia Fox, both of whom are mother and daughter! They’re often replayed and repeated on UK TV so I hope to catch either series in full at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the detailed comment, I am happy to find a fellow fan of Rebecca! I can understand how it may be a less interesting read as a teen and more engaging as an adult. I look forward to watching all the adaptations, very curious about casting and how well the setting is captured in real life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think I found it less interesting, just different to a lot of the classics or other Adult fiction I was reading then. I always got to a certain chapter and decided it wasn’t for me at that time; that I’d appreciate it as an adult, which as it turns out, is very true.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review – Rebecca is also one of my favourite books and I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! I would really recommend Jamaica Inn, if you’d like to read more Daphne du Maurier. And have you read Jane Eyre …?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have this one sitting on my Kindle, unfinished. I probably should make an effort to finish it, but not sure this is really my thing. I thought Jane Eyre was ok, but I didn’t love it like most people seem to. Great review though!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad you rated 10/10. Rebecca is one of my all-time favorites, though most anything by Du Maurier is extremely good. If you liked Rebecca, checkout Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel. You’ll likely enjoy that one as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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