Monday, 5 September 2016

Review: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Title: Rebecca
Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Publisher: Virago
Pages: 432
Genres: Classics

On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband's home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.
A breathtaking work of gothic fiction, Rebecca haunted me from the very beginning. The whole novel is told through the first person narrative of a symbolically nameless woman who finds married life to be not what she was expecting as the new Mrs. de Winter. Upon arriving at Mr. de Winter's stately home of Manderley, the narrator discovers that there is a third person in her marriage - the recently deceased first wife, Rebecca. Rebecca's presence is still oppressively felt throughout the estate and like the narrator, I felt just as stifled by her.

Rebecca has many similarities with Jane Eyre, one of my favourite books. There is a vast estate, a romance between a young woman and a much older man, strange servants, atmospheric fog - all the ingredients I absolutely love in a gothic novel. I really liked the nameless narrator, she had married up and was completely overwhelmed by Manderley and her place in it. I felt an affinity with her as I can imagine being similarly unsure if I were put in a similar situation. I just loved the over hasty marriage to Maxim de Winter, it captured instant infatuation perfectly. Maxim completely dominates the narrator and it was very entertaining to see it unfold.

I don't think I have ever come across a character that has creeped me out more than the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. What a horrifying woman. She is essentially described as a skull dressed in black. There was one scene in particular that freaked me out so much, I actually got goosebumps. She is a 'cut off your face to wear to her birthday party' kind of person. I would not have been able to sleep in the same house as that creep, I have no idea how the narrator did it.

As for the climax of the novel, I have mixed feelings about it. I think a particular character was an unreliable narrator and I just doubted everything that person said. I think the whole situation was majorly misunderstood. If you read the book, you will understand what I am getting at here. Something didn't feel quite right to me, so that is why I don't feel like I can rate this brilliant novel higher even though I really want to. The ending was just perfect, could not have ended any other way. I would highly recommend to everyone.

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