Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Last week I finished reading the classic novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, published in 1938, as part of my commitment to the 2012 Classics Challenge. I had not heard of this novel until I saw a review of it on First Tuesday Book Club. They are very careful not to give away too much of the story, and the story certainly exceeded my expectations. In fact, it's been one of my favourites this year!

Rebecca is the name of the first wife of Maxim de Winter, who is dead. The narrator is the young second wife, whose name we never learn.
   The story beings with the second Mrs de Winter telling how she and her husband live a quiet, secluded life, avoiding their acquaintances and virtually hiding from the past. It seems like they are afraid.
   Then the second Mrs de Winter goes back to tell of her meeting Maxim de Winter and returning with him to his estate, where she lives in the shadow of the dead first wife, and seemingly can't live up to the expectations of her.
   Because it is narrated by the second Mrs de Winter, we are thrust into her adolescent emotional turmoil, and see the story from her point of view until the whole thing unravels before her, and then we learn the truth when she does.
   Mrs Danvers, the main housekeeping and Rebecca's former maid, is exceedingly jealous that her mistress could be replaced, and sets out to undermine the new Mrs de Winter and play mind games with her. Mrs Danvers is a great character.
   The novel is more of a suspense story than a romance, which I wasn't expecting. It could even be considered a ghost story, although there is no physical presence of the ghost. It is quite clever, and the writing is lovely.

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