written by Daphne du Maurier
416 pages // published in 1938 // adult fiction // literary classic
Rebecca de Winter.
These names will live in literary infamy.
So easily was I sucked into the deep and mesmerizing world of Rebecca's, the one she left behind before her death. The one that continues revolving without her -- yet always with her.
The story, in fact, is not about Rebecca at all -- yet it is consumed with the enigma of her. The story, in fact, is about a lady's maid residing in Monto Carlo, who is swept off her feet by one Maxim de Winter, swiftly becoming his second wife. And at that point, the new (and now rich) Mrs. de Winter's problems ensue. As she begins to settle into her husband's beautiful English estate, the one called Manderley, she soon realizes that she does not truly retain her husband's attention, manage the household staff, or even receive due favor from the house pets. They all still cling to Rebecca and her remarkable ways.
All along, the absence of Rebecca haunts the new Mrs. de Winter. Clues to the previous Mrs. de Winter's life exist all around Manderley -- such as in Maxim's thoughts and in the devious housekeeper's actions. It seems that the young bride cannot escape the mortality of the woman who preceded her place. Rebecca casts shadows upon each of the new Mrs. Maxim de Winter's steps.
My thoughts? In short, Rebecca is fascinating. It kept me held in place, waiting with baited breath to see how this story could possibly turn out -- especially in a satisfactory way. Does it end well? How can it?
I think one day I shall have to re-read this vintage classic. Not just to relish again in the labyrinth of plot manipulation, but... to see in a decade or so how I feel about the story in general and the characters. Will it still feel cold, yet classy? Seeing the coming twists, will I internally mourn when the final cause of death is revealed? Mrs. Danvers, I wonder, will she still seem so sinister after I have had more life experience? And the new Mrs. de Winter -- will I still see so much of me in her that it brings me pain to see her suffer so?
The title of Rebecca is the epitome of fine elegance and fatal intrigue. Considered a gothic novel due to the morbid turn of events, it was published in 1938 and won the National Book Award for favorite novel of that same year.
I listened to this title as an audiobook -- Anna Massey's (Hachette Audio) verbal nuances and character tones are spot on. If you like audiobooks, this is a great one to listen to. (But if you prefer reading in book form, please go right ahead.)
It's an amazing read -- one to send you reeling for many a day.
P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.