reading: Rebecca

December 27, 2015

If Jane EyreDowntown Abbey, and Gone Girl had a baby, it would be Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This book combines the tense suspicion and guileless heroine of the Gothic novel, with the upstairs / downstairs tension and time period of the television series, and the horrifying husband and wife intrigue of the modern novel. If you are looking for a cozy but creepy read this winter, you must pick up this book.

From the very beginning, this book is lushly written. The unnamed female narrator describes a dream of her abandoned home in which nature has darkly overtaken the unoccupied English manor: "The woods always a menace even in the past, has triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive. The beeches with white, naked limbs leaned close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church." The struggle of the civilized property against the dark influence of the uninhibited desires of nature symbolizes the struggle of the main characters against the maniacal personalities of others.

This unnamed narrator is a young woman that chooses to marry an older widower, Maximillian de Winter despite his reserved and gloomy nature and higher status. She is overshadowed in her new role as Mrs. de Winter by his previous wife, Rebecca, although she is dead. All anyone can talk about is Rebecca, the whole house is still arranged as Rebecca would have it, and the deranged housekeeper Mrs. Danvers will not allow a new mistress to take over. The main character doesn't even get a name, and the book is named for the deceased wife.

As the book progresses, suspense builds immensely. Mrs. de Winter struggles to fit into the house, and begins to unravel the truth about Rebecca, and her death. There are many unexpected twists to the story, tightening the fabric of the narrative. Mysteries are solved, renewed, and deepened. I don't want to spoil it. All I can say is that if you need to read this book.

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