Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Rebecca [review]

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Published by Little, Brown, and Company on December 17, 2013 (originally 1938)
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.22 (as of 2019-10-05)
Spoiler-free Review

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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.


I’ve been intending to read Rebecca for quite some time now and after some insistence by, well, pretty much everyone around me, I finally did it! I found it to be quite intriguing and thought it would make for a really interesting study had I read it in school. And I almost wish I had, since there was so much I’m sure I didn’t pick up on. At its core, it’s the story of a woman who falls in love with a widower, only to find herself in the shadow of the late Rebecca.

No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.

It’s clear from the start that our narrator can’t hold a candle to Rebecca herself — she speaks explicitly of it, but also implies it by leaving herself nameless. She obsesses over every difference between them, both real and perceived, down to the fact that the narrator must call Mr. de Winter “Maxim” while Rebecca called him “Max.” As she settles into her new life as Mrs. de Winter, she must adjust to others’ expectations of her as well. Instead of making her time her own, she adheres to the schedules and habits previously exhibited by Rebecca. Yet she still can tell that she is always being held to a standard she cannot meet. 

Rebecca, always Rebecca. I should never be rid of Rebecca.

The dichotomy between the two women is the main focus of the book. Where Rebecca was boisterous and well-loved, the young bride is cautious and shy. Where Rebecca was tall, dark, and beautiful, our narrator is small, plain, and compliant. It’s easy to hate the main character as much as she hates herself; as a reader, I wanted her to buck up and make an effort instead of tiptoeing around everything. It’s difficult not to agree with her that Rebecca was better in every way. 

I knew now the reason for my sense of foreboding. It was not the stranded ship that was sinister, nor the crying gulls, nor the thin black funnel pointing to the shore. It was the stillness of the black water, and the unknown things that lay beneath.

I can’t get much deeper into the plot without spoiling the mystery, but there is truly mystery abound here. There are slow bits, but once things creep up on you, you’ll find yourself flying through the pages to get to the end. And the end itself is quite shocking. Honestly, my only complaints really are those slower pieces (honestly, just cutting a bit out would have cured this) as well as the lack of spine in the main character. She’s quite boring at times, but it also serves a purpose for her to be the way she is.

It doesn’t make for sanity, does it, living with the devil.

Overall, I’m quite glad I ended up reading this. It was an interesting book and great for those who love gothic reads.


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15 thoughts on “Rebecca [review]”

  1. Great review! I can definitely see your point about the MC being boring/frustrating at times, though for me once she left the rich woman I was completely hooked. (I think I just get along well with gothic lit.) I’m so glad you finally read and mostly enjoyed this one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked this book a lot, but I had the same issues as you – the main character is so spineless. I thought I understood her a bit though and could put myself in her shoes, being so different from this other lady who was perfect and arriving, young, naïve, poor, to be the new lady of the mansion. Her husband was a doorknob too – like she’s a woman she’ll surely know how to be the mistress of a giant house and all.

    Also

    [SPOILER ALERT]

    I did have a OMG THIS IS AWFUL reaction to her deciding to back him up and stay together after she finds out about The Rebecca Secret, but then I thought no, wait… actually this fits well. She did love him foolishl- I mean, deeply and she did do all of this for him. As long as he is with her, she’ll do anything. Also I like that the whole situation is equalized in the end by him losing the big house that made her so uncomfortable. What did you think?

    Ah, and did you feel like the ending was a sort of victory to that person (I forgot her name) who set the fire? I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

    (You can tell I’ve been wanting to discuss the book for a while).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. [CONTINUED SPOILERS]

      Oh, I totally agree! Objectively it was a terrible reaction on her part, but makes total sense. I mean, she was so obsessed with him loving Rebecca more than her that finding out he didn’t completely outweighed how terrible what had happened was. And def agree that their relationship became more equalized at the end.

      I did feel like it was a victory for Mrs. Whatshername, although I’m sure her continued distress will eventually outweigh whatever joy she felt about taking the house down. It’s definitely a lose-lose-lose for all involved, ha.

      Like

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