Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Add this to the “Fabulous First Lines of Novels” list. Let me just start by saying that I loved this book. It’s been called a modern masterpiece and I must agree. From that first line I was sucked in to the world that Daphne du Maurier so masterfully created. This was a page turner for me—I got a little tetchy with my family when they needed my attention (can’t you just eat cold cereal for dinner????) and I wanted to read! The suspense, the mystery—this is good stuff.
The writing is superb—it’s chock full of literary elements like irony and foreshadowing, the vocabulary is rich (even used chock-a-block) and the descriptions are amazing. At the beginning I thought “Okay, I get it. Manderley is beautiful.” But those descriptions became a necessary part of the story later on. Quite clever of du Maurier to leave the main character (Mrs. de Winter) essentially nameless. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Rebecca is dead, and the new Mrs. de Winter comes to Manderley at a slight disadvantage. The new Mrs. de Winter is forced to grow up quickly as she takes her place at Manderley. As the story unfolds we learn more about the life and death of Rebecca and it’s just so good and juicy!
The characters are very well developed. You definitely get into the characters’ psyches and see what makes them tick, even Rebecca. And the evil Mrs. Danvers is something else again.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
I have to include my favorite line in the book when the new Mrs. de Winter finally says to Mrs. Danvers: “I’m afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs. de Winter used to do,” I said. “I am Mrs. de Winter now, you know. And if I choose to send a message by Robert I shall do so.” I let out a loud Wohoo! when I read that one.
This book gets an A+ from me. If you haven’t read it, you would most likely enjoy it. I’m checking the movie out from the library next. It won the Oscar for best movie in 1940, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.