Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: Review

Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is one of the classics I hadn’t gotten around to reading — until recently. My oldest daughter read it, and recommended it to me. So I rescued it from the “return to library” pile, and I agree, it’s a great book.

In case you haven’t read it: our narrator (who is never named) is in Monte Carlo as a helper to an older lady when she meets Max de Winter, who has recently lost his wife Rebecca in a tragic accident. Max and the narrator quickly fall in love, despite him being 42 to her 21. They get married and move to his palatial home, Manderly. But the ghostly presence of Rebecca is strong, and our narrator never feels truly comfortable. It doesn’t help matters that Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, was Rebecca’s biggest fan, and she keeps telling wife #2 about all the ways she is falling short of her predecessor. That’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers, but the book is full of twists and turns that keep you reading, and even when you think you’ve figured things out, at least a curve or two will probably throw you before things are wrapped up.

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a lot of Jane Eyre, my all-time favorite: young, sweet, timid girl who meets dashing, moody older guy. A big gothic house. A haunting first wife who throws a wrench in the works.Weather as a character.

“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say … Today, wrapped in the complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day by day brush one but lightly and are soon forgotten, but then — how a careless word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal.” I think most of us can relate to depiction of young love.

I really felt for our heroine, being so young and naive and thrust into a difficult situation. Maxim came off to me as more of a jerk than Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester (“Don’t be a little idiot,” he tells her on one typical occasion). I wished I could take action for her, as she “sat with my hands in my lap ready to agree with what anybody said.” Then, later, I marveled at her growing boldness as events progressed: “I would lie and perjure and swear, I would blaspheme and pray.” See, you really have to read the book to see what prompts this huge change …

Have you read Rebecca? Did you enjoy it? I need to watch the Alfred Hitchcock version of the film now. Soon …

3 thoughts on “Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: Review

  1. No, I have not read it but after reading your review, I want to. Sounds like a book that I would enjoy. Every so often I like to read a classic also. Thanks for the nice review.

  2. No, I’ve not read it, and after reading your review, I doubt I would enjoy it. I think you’ve saved me from spending time on a book that would just frustrate me. That is not to say that I think your review was a bad one. Just that in this case, I have a different taste for books than you.

  3. I’ve never read it, but it keeps coming up when I am looking for classics to read. I’m not keen on stories that have a ghost as a character, but maybe someday I’ll give it a try.

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