Imagine marrying another woman’s husband. Moving into her home that she tended and created, filled with her people, preserved like a sanctuary, as though she’d whirl back in any day … imagine having your very identity obliterated and slowly replaced by hers till all you can see when you look at yourself is her and yet not quite her…

Even the title of this book by Daphne Du Maurier is homage to that woman. Rebecca … this dark tale is of a young, self-effacing girl who marries a man of means and comes to live in his beautiful, palatial, dream house; a girl who has no name and a man who was once married to Rebecca.

It’s rather a stroke of luck, our nameless protagonist thinks, when she meets Maxim de Winter as she plays the companion to a rich American lady in the French Riviera. A widower, Max seems to be mourning his dead wife who by all accounts was truly something to mourn! Fancying herself in love with the typical-Romantic-hero, Max, she doesn’t however think he could ever return her affections. So it comes as a huge shock to her when, in a few short days, Max asks her to marry him. And that’s how she finds herself in Manderley. …

And so…where most stories would end, begins the story of the new Mrs de Winter. The house, Manderley is as much a character in the book as are the people in it and as such you could be forgiven for seeing ghosts in nearly every scene as our protagonist feels herself fading away in the mist and merging into that paragon, Rebecca but never quite being able to be her.

It’s easy to see why Rebecca shot Daphne du Maurier to fame. The book has a brilliant premise and as such she builds it up very well. The protagonist is one of those weak-minded, pale creatures who were once so popular in fiction, who fails to rally your sympathies simply because she’s so irritatingly self-effacing you want to slap her! However, the climax turns out not to be quite so climactic, after all and is something of a let-down after all that build up. Nonetheless, as you shut the book it’s hard to deny that the ghosts of Rebecca and Manderley still linger … while Mr and Mrs de Winter are fairly easily forgotten. I’d give the book a 3.5/5 simply for giving me goosebumps without a single ectoplasmic appearance!

3 thoughts on “Rebecca

  1. I must say that this is one book that made me really think about two things: appearances and interior peace. Max and Rebecca were the perfect couple; they had everything, were envied by everyone. What they lacked was peace, interior peace. Max and his new wife, after the discovery, lack everything strictly speaking, but resign themselves to the working of destiny, a feat they are able to accomplish because of their interior peace. The author, as a result, makes a bargain: she lets him be lucky, and is able to live again.


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