Pages: 410 pages
Published: August 1938
Genre: Fiction, Classics
A classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house’s first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.
This is my first introduction to Daphne Du Maurier’s writing. I have always wanted to read Rebecca and I am so glad I got the opportunity to do so. I thought it was amazing! I was immediately hooked into the story. I found myself to be drawn in Maurier’s writing style. Her language is both eloquent and captivating but containing words that will bring a chill down your spine. This book reminds me a little of Agatha Christie’s works, if she ever expanded it and included a romantic relationship. Now, I am not saying that Maurier gives Chrisite a run for her money, but she creates enough mystery, twists and surprises that will leave stunned until the very last page.
The narrator is such an interesting character to examine. Not only she is never given a name in the entirety of the story (and you should definitely read the Author’s Note on why she chose to not to give Mrs. De Winter a first name. You find the author’s note in this edition), but her personality was just so compelling. She is not an easy person to deal with and as a reader, you will be frustrated with her, however, you cannot help yourself having a connection with her somehow. Because of her naiveté, you feel sorry for her and yet, sometimes you want to slap her. However, that is what makes her a more realistic character. Her flaws are what make her story so fascinating.
This paperback edition subtitles this book as a “romantic suspense”. Maybe the publisher did this to sell it as a romantic story, but, I can safely say that although it has little romance in the story, it is a stretch to call it a “romantic suspense” Maxim de Winter and Mrs. de Winter’s relationship is so unhealthy that I find it so hard to envision any romance between them. I believe it is meant to be companionship love, two people who are meant to just take care of one another. But, nothing romantic and you definitely see that between Maxim and the narrator. He treats her more like a pet than a wife, but that is probably due to his previous relationship, with Rebecca.
I also know that Rebecca is historically known as a ghost story. If you are expecting a story with supernatural forces popping our of nowhere, then this is not the novel for you. But, I would say it is a ghost story, in the sense that Rebecca’s continue presence and overwhelming influence “haunts” the halls of Manderley. A ghost does not necessarily have to physically make their presence known. What they leave behind makes sure that they are never forgotten, for example, Mrs. Danvers’ obsession with Rebecca. This element is what makes Rebecca such a perfect example of gothic literature for the 20th century.
There are so many twists and turns in this novel but I believe the big one is towards the end. I discussed this my book club and most of them did not agree with me. I didn’t see the ending coming and it was just a final element of Rebecca’s legacy that makes me interpret it as a twist. But you just have to read it to make up your mind.
Rebecca was just a perfect epitome of gothic literature that builds suspense and tension at the right moments. Because of this novel, I am going to read more of her other works. Read this suspenseful novel and get absorbed in the dark and sinister history of Manderley and the footprint Rebecca left behind.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars