“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
Rebecca is the story of a young woman (her first name is never given) who marries wealthy Maxim de Winter, mostly to escape her life as a companion to a rich American woman. She moves with her new husband to his estate, Manderly, where she learns about her husband’s previous wife, Rebecca. Although Rebecca drowned in the ocean near the house over a year ago, the house is still full of her prescence. Her old room is cleaned daily, and is left exactly the way it was when Rebecca still lived there. Her servant, the creepy and completely evil Mrs. Danvers, is still loyal to Rebecca, and the new Mrs. de Winter finds herself being compared to Rebecca by everyone she encounters. Over the course of the story, the narrator begins to inquire into Rebecca’s past with her husband in an attempt to discover how she was able to captivate everyone she knew. As the story progresses, Mrs. de Winter discovers that not everyone at Manderley has been completely honest with her, and Rebecca herself is at the heart of all these secrets.
I really liked this book. Its plot was similar to Jane Eyre (unassuming young woman moves into creepy mansion and falls in love with a jackass), but unlike Bronte, du Maurier doesn’t reveal her biggest plot twist three-quarters of the way through the story – in Rebecca, the surprises keep coming until literally the last page, making it a much more enjoyable read. I also fell in love with the main character, mainly because I completely understood her timidity and her desire to be charming and loved, and to live up to the standard set by the previous Mrs. de Winter. There’s a great scene soon after she moves to Manderly where she accidentally breaks a little china figurine and, because she’s too embarrassed to admit what happened, hides the broken pieces and hopes that no one finds out. I love this scene, because her panic and her desperation come across beautifully, and it’s exactly how I would react in the same situation. Some readers found the narrator’s weaknesses frustrating, but I loved her for them.
Verdict: four out of five stars