Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

Also reviewed by Heather.

Summary:  "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim 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 Mrs Danvers.

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman.  (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review: This is the second time I've read Rebecca and I liked it better the first time.  As an adult I found the writing left something to be desired.  It was ok; I'm not saying it's poor writing, but it wasn't great.  In my eyes, it's no Jane Eyre--my favorite book; feel free to argue all you like, but you won't change my opinion.  As a thirteen year old reading this book, I remember being enthralled.  The suspense, the Gothic feel, the mystery, the twist, all added up to a great read.  I think it also makes a difference when reading it a second time that you already know the ending.  Anti-climactic to say the least.

I have been told by a couple people that if you read the first couple chapters after finishing the book it ends more satisfyingly, keeping with the sequence of events.  I don't know if that matters to me, but I mention it for those who might read this in the future.  I was also told that du Maurier was the Nora Roberts of her time, and this actually made me feel less judgmental of the book.  If you're churning out book after book, I can only imagine that the writing can become repetitive and at times lack creative thought.  The plot is fantastic, full of twists and turns, but the writing was not.  Repeatedly you'd see the phrase, "Yes," I said.  The characters dialogue left much to be desired at times.

I believe this is a book that every avid reader should read once.  The storyline itself is enough to recommend it.  It's clean, it's suspenseful, it's got a great twist and overall is spoken of enough that it's a good frame of reference for other novels.

Another note: the movie made by Alfred Hitchcock follows the book very closely (with only two differences in the ending, albeit significant changes).  I highly recommend watching the movie once you've read the book or if you know you'll never read it but want a condensed version.

Rating: 4 stars--for the plot and overall storyline.

Sum it up:  A more recent version of a gothic love story.

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