Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – Book Review

I have been listening to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier on audiobook for what feels like three years. This is in no way a negative take on this classic story; it’s more that my commuting time is a lot less these days, and it is my prime audiobook time.

Anyway, I DID finish Rebecca and loved it just as much as the first time I read it, years ago. The brooding, Gothic atmosphere, the mysterious characters, the wonderful attention to detail and the fact it still filled me with suspense even though I knew the story.

Opening sentence: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Mr & Mrs de Winter

First published in 1938, Rebecca’s opening line is one of the most iconic in literature. Manderley, the mighty coastal home of Maxim de Winter is as much a character in this story as Maxim himself, his second (unnamed) wife and and his first (deceased) wife… Rebecca.

On holiday in Monte Carlo, our unnamed narrator meets the charismatic Maxim de Winter, embarks on a whirlwind romance and ends up marrying him. It turns out, his first wife had died only a year earlier – in a boating accident.

Maxim brings his new love back to his home on the Cornwall coast, Manderly, to start her new life as the second Mrs de Winter.

I could fight the living but I could not fight the dead.

Things are not easy for her though – the shadow of Rebecca is everywhere. Rebecca was known to be beautiful, enigmatic and loved by all. Especially by Manderley’s housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. She was very close to Rebecca and is less than taken, shall we say, with the new Mrs. de Winter…

Mrs. Danvers has earnt her place in the iconic-characters’-hall-of-fame. She is cold, calculating, slightly unhinged and downright devious. Making her absolutely brilliant to read; the page crackles in anticipation every time she appears on it.

A Gothic classic

Rebecca is a wonderfully layered murder mystery. The power of suggestion and slight of hand is done so wonderfully. Rebecca is such a huge character in the book, despite the fact she is dead and we never actually meet her. The way the truth unravels about Rebecca’s boating accident is perfectly paced too and I just loved the way the scenes were set; the conversations and lives of all the characters being woven through the story.

I had actually forgotten how it ended – with a sort of part two to the story, and that made it even more of a treat to rediscover. If you love Gothic stories and a cracking murder-mystery, definitely make sure Rebecca is a classic read you add to your list.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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