Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again ...
Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers ...
Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.Rebecca is a book that I continue to see reviewed over and over again, but I never actually made myself read. I wasn't sure if it was going to be a book that I would love and the edition I have on my TBR pile is a mass-market paperback with really small print. Unless I really want to read a book, that format can be a turnoff for me. Then, the other day I was browsing through the new books on the library website and I saw a trade edition of Rebecca with a really nice cover. I decided that today was the day and requested it. Not wanting to change my mind again, I started the book the day that I picked it up from the library and I was captivated. I went into that book thinking 'this probably isn't for me', but what resulted is me finding a book that will likely be on my list of favourite books of all time.
I know that I should not be a genre snob, but those that know me are aware of the fact that I am not the sort to rush out and read anything marketed as a romance novel. That is not to say that I don't read a few here and there, but I like romance as part of the plot and not the main thing. With older books, though, just because it says it is a romance does not mean that is what you should expect. Rebecca did have a romance as part of it, but there was a lot more going on than that. Our nameless narrator marries a man whose wife died 10 months before in a terrible accident. She is happy to be saved from her life as a companion to an over-bearing woman, but then she is transported to a world that she knows nothing about. Not only does she have to learn to be the lady of the house, but she also has to learn to live with the ghost of Rebecca.
I loved the characters in this book. Mrs. Danvers was a really well-written villain. You never knew what to expect from her at any given time. It was fascinating to watch her character progress and discover just how crazy she could be. She is very unhappy that Maxim has remarried and still feels like Rebecca is a presence in the household. She is determined to keep her memory well alive and to do anything in her power to bring about the end of the new Mrs. de Winter. I think Daphne du Maurier captured her on the page brilliantly. She really came alive for me. Then, there was Rebecca herself. She played the perfect ghost. Even though she was not alive for the novel, you still knew her really well by the end of it. She may be dead, but she has not actually left Manderley. From the surface she seemed like the perfect hostess for a beautiful house, but as the story progresses and the layers are peeled back you will be fascinated by the character that appears.
I just loved this book so much! When I started it I was constantly interrupted and only managed to get through 200 pages. The next day I managed to block most things out and read to the end. I was so excited to see how the story played out, but on the other hand I was really disappointed that it was over with. There haven't been a lot of books like this so far this year, so I was so happy that I finally found one! It is was atmospheric, Gothic, and the perfect book for this time of the year. If you are participating in the R.I.P. challenge and haven't read this book before, you really should! I am glad that I did!
This book is my fifth read for the R.I.P. challenge.