Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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.


  1. I agree with you, mass market can be a turn-off for me too...especially if I am not connecting with the book.
    My 15-year old daughter is going to read Jane Eyre for lit class so I made sure that I did not purchase her a mass market edition.

    I am glad that you liked Rebecca. I read it last year, and it made it to my favorite books of the year list. I don't own it, and I should.
    It is a haunting story, much is going on: miscommunications, sadness, a surreal feeling. I thought the ending was a bit disturbing, and one that I was not really expecting.

    I will re-read this book at some point.

  2. ibeeeg: I am not a huge classics fan, but I think part of the reason I haven't read books on my TBR that are classics is because they are mass-market. I think I would be more likely to read them if they were trade.

    I know. The ending was a bit different from what I was expecting, too. It took me a bit to digest it!

  3. I LOVE Rebecca so much!!! I had the same reaction as you at first..convinced that it wouldn't be for me..and then I started reading it and became obsessed with it. I think it's another disaster of HORRIBLE marketing choices with that awful cover that they've chosen for so long that makes it look like it's a romance novel!! The scarlet red cover with Rebecca written in that gold script....Such a turn off. That cover just screams romance! And it's not at all!

  4. I'm so glad you loved this book. I first read it ten years ago and it has become one of my all-time favourites. It's a shame if people are choosing not to read it because it's being marketed as a romance novel - there's so much more to the story than that. And I agree that it's a perfect book for the RIP Challenge!

  5. Great review! I read this a couple of years ago as a second-hand 1970s-era mass market book so I completely know what you mean when it comes to being put off by size and format. My cover had some totally chintzy 70s cover and the feel of the acidic paper drove me mad. But I'm glad I persevered. What an amazing book. If you enjoyed this one, try My Cousin Rachel by du Maurier - also excellent!

    And just to play devil's advocate on the covers, there may be many a reader who otherwise wouldn't have read Rebecca who would pick it up when marketed more like a romance! That's sort of a win, right? :)

  6. Anonymous2:48 PM

    I read Rebecca when I was in high school and remember loving it and reading through all my mom's Du Mauriers. I need to go back and read it again. I think I have s copy somewhere in my stacks.

    I personally don't mind mass market paperbacks. They're easy to carry around.

  7. great review! I loved both the book and the old black and white movie!!!

  8. Yes - I agree with Deslily nice review... and no spoilers!

    I have this one on my list and hope to get to it soon. As well as Jane Eyre. I do think I watched the movie as a child... but that was some time ago.

    I am not a great romance fan either and abandoned Pride and Prejudice just recently.

    Thanks for commenting on our posts at Layers of Thoughts too!

  9. Chris: I read the edition that I have the book cover of on this post. I think it's a great cover and when I buy it, that's the one that I am getting!

    Helen: I think the old covers were a bit of a turnoff, too. They didn't really appeal to me at all! Then, I bought it anyways because I had heard such good things, but I still couldn't make myself read it. This cover worked much better for me!

    Kate: Thanks! I put My Cousin Rachel on my holds list for the library. I was wondering what I should tackle next. :) I might just buy it because it has been released with a similar cover to the Rebecca and my library doesn't have that edition.

    You are exactly right. I like the new cover much better, though, so regardless it is win/win. Plus, me saying I liked it even though I don't really like romance novels might get a few stragglers to read it... I hope, anyway!

    carolsnotebook: I am looking forward to reading more du Maurier novels now that I have broke the ice, so to speak, with her. :)

    Pat: I will have to see if I can get a copy of the movie.

    Shellie: I try not to spoil anything in my reviews. That's why I don't talk about everything that I liked because it takes the fun out of it for other people...

    It was my pleasure visiting your blog! Thanks for visiting back!

  10. Okay I think I've fallen for the same misconceptions as you and Chris with this one.

    I'm thinking that I should definitely try and pick up a copy at some point though!

  11. The romance-y look of this book (I have the one with the bright red cover) made me reluctant to read it, and then once I'd read it I couldn't believe I'd waited so long! It's a fantastic book. I'm glad you liked it too!!

  12. Yay! I'm so glad you liked it! It's one of my favorites. That Rebecca has such an ominous presence for a dead person.

  13. Loved your thoughts. Rebecca is such a great book! So glad you enjoyed it.

    I take issue with genre labels often. I am surprised how some things get categorized at times. I know I miss books I would like (when I'm browsing) because they get shelved in a section I don't normally look at. Just a little pet peeve of mine ;o)

  14. I'm so glad you liked this so much!! I loved it to death!

  15. One of my all-time favorites! I like the old editions best. And I wouldn't characterize this as a romance at all!! I'm going to read her collection of spooky stories, "Don't Look Now" and can hardly wait.

  16. I didn't like the copy I got from the library so I made it to about page 3 and brought it back. I need to search out a better one as it definitely seems like a good read! Glad you finally got to it :D

  17. I'm so glad you read it and liked it. It's a great book.

    DesLily mentioned the movie with Laurence Olivier as Maxim. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's almost as good as the book.


  18. Great book &, as has been mentioned, the movie is also excellent (Hitchcock directed).

  19. I'm so glad that you read and enjoyed this one. I read and loved it myself and plan on rereading it at some point. I've got another book by this author checked out from the library that I'm hoping to read for the RIP challenge. Great review!

  20. Rebecca is one of my favorite books of all time! I really feel for and can relate to the second Mrs. de Winter in a way that probably isn't healthy. Mrs. Danvers is delightfully creepy and Rebecca is wonderfully evil. I am so glad that you loved it too!

  21. Darren: I really hope you get passed that and read it! It was a fantastic book!

    Jenny: It's a horrible cover. Think of all the people that would probably love it and haven't read it because of the bad cover choice...

    Chris: I know, huh? It makes for great reading, though!

    Terri: My bookstore lately has been baffling me. They have started shelving Kelley Armstrong as horror, which I don't get at all, for example. Sometimes I think books should just be placed all together and sorted by author.... I know why it isn't that way, but labels are so limiting!

    Amanda: I am always happy when me and you agree on a book. :)

    Daphne: It's not really a romance. But, I think part of the surprise to the book is finding out what it really is...

    She: If you can find the edition that my book cover picture is from I suggest that one. It was great and now I want to buy it!

    cj: I really will make a point to watch the movie version!

    Caitlin: I am so glad to hear such great things about the movie. I have heard of it, of course, but don't think I have ever seen it.

    samantha: I am hoping to read My Cousin Rebecca next. Just have to wait for it to come in for me at the library.

    Michelle: It is one of mine, too! I just loved it and am so glad that I read it! FINALLY! lol

  22. I love this book! I read it for the RIP Challenge a couple of years back and goodness, back then I couldn't believe it took me so long to finally pick it up! And yes, I know how mass market paperbacks can be a turnoff. I've the trade copy myself (with a different cover than the photo here) and I actually prefer reading bigger books than those small ones that sometime stain my fingers with ink residue. Or something.

    Maybe that's why I haven't read my other two du Maurier. My copies are both mass market paperbacks! Argh :)

  23. Glad to hear you liked it so much!

    I'm another one who has never read this and shamefully has never read anything by du Maurier, yet I'm fairly positive I will like her when I get around to it. Must. get. around. to. it.

  24. I really do need to get over my fear of this book! I adore her short stories sooooo much, so I've no idea why her novels scare me. Anyway, I am so glad to hear it produced such a wonderful reading experience for you, Kelly! So wonderful when that happens, isn't it?

  25. This is my mom's #1 all-time favorite book. She always talks about how wonderful it is. I've never really had an interest in reading it, but your review makes me do a double-think. Maybe one of these days.

  26. Rebecca is one of my favorites. It's so deliciously creepy. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  27. It is a fabulous book, I love it, and will always love it. I have seen the movie twice since but should read the book again as it is so good.

  28. One of my all time favourites and one of the few I reread.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  29. I'm glad you enjoyed this, too - it's such an atmospheric read, perfect for RIP time.

    It's funny, I was pulling books today at work for a banned books display, and I have to say I was pretty surprised to find Rebecca on there! Of course, honestly I'm surprised to find most of them on there - I mean, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...really? Really? :p

  30. I need to read this one too. I have heard great things about it.

  31. Lightheaded: I think a lot of the reasons why I have been slow with many of my series is because of mass-market books. I read other books ahead of them...

    Nicola: It was really really good! I hope you get around to it!

    Debi: You do! It's awesome! I loved that I loved it so much!

    logankstewart: I think you should give it a try!

    Avid Reader: It is good and creepy!

    Caroline: The book is fantastic! I am so glad that I read it!

    Cat: I am hoping I will actually reread it myself!

    Darla: It is crazy what people consider 'ban' worthy. Small minded people!

    Naida: I am glad to hear that I am not the only one that took forever to get around to it!

  32. Isn't Mrs. Danvers so well-written? Just thinking about her gives me the creeps--there were so many visual images of her in the book.

    Like you I always thought this book was a romance and so I avoided it like mad (yaya, book snob). I'm so glad someone finally told me that I had to read it--and then that I got to read it with Amanda from Zen Leaf last year. This is one I'd love to reread and reread again.

  33. It's astonishing to me that this book is marketed as a romance novel (but it's astonishing to me that my own books are sometimes marketed this way). Don't blame authors for what publishers do to try to sell books! Daphne is rolling over in her grave. This is my favorite gothic suspense novel EVER. Mrs. Danvers rivals Iago in my opinion. Kudos to you for introducing the book to a new generation of readers!

  34. Anonymous5:06 AM

    I borrowed my Nan's beautiful hardback copy of this book, I usually don't enjoy hardbacks but this time I felt it added to the mood of the book.

    Rebecca was my Nan's favourite book so that is why I tried it and certainly wasn't disappointed. I found the story really transported me to Manderley and right into the middle of the chilling goings on.

  35. Trish: Mrs. Danvers is probably one of the best written characters in literature. I think she will stick with me! I really want to reread this, too, so I am going to buy myself a copy soon!

    Karen: Speaking of your books, I am pretty sure I have a book by you in my library pile. I am hoping to get to it, soon!

    thebookwormchronicles: Glad to hear you enjoyed this so much!

  36. I have a friend who reads Rebecca every year, about this time. Before I started re-reading books (a relatively new phenomenon) I thought she was crazy! But this book IS that good. I adore the movie, too.

  37. Rebecca is like peeling an onion, each layer becomes more and more suspicious. I'm so glad you liked it.

  38. "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"

    I agree with you...I shouldn't be a genre snob too... but I never once read Romance novel, I always avoid it.

    Your review on Rebeca is interesting, I might consider reading it one day

  39. Whitney: That is a great way to look at it!

    novroz: It isn't really a romance novel, so hopefully you don't think it is. I know it is probably marketed as one, but it is so much more!

  40. I loved REBECCA and I'm glad you feel the same way too!

  41. Ha! I LOVE that you had this book sitting on your TBR pile, but borrowed it from the library instead to read it. That is awesome! :)

    Also, yay!! YOu liked this book!! Isn't it just sooooo good?


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

I am so sorry, but I turned anonymous commenting off. I have had it from the very beginning, but that is how the spam is getting by my spam filter at the moment. If it is a big deal I will turn it back on and moderate all comments. I also changed moderation from older than 14 days to older than 7.