Loved it. I'm surprised this story was written in '38, and I hadn't heard of it till now. The mystery, while a bit predictable, was played out with such great eeriness and foreboding that I didn't care that I'd figured it out. I did find that reading Chapter 1 again after turning the last page was even more interesting, and I recommend everyone else do the same...just for the fun of it.
The novel begins, as does a Sherlock Holmes story, with a hint of the denouement. It bodes of tragedy. As I read, I find that her writing rivals that of the Brontes. Rebecca de Winter is an unusual protagonist. She has a secret. Unfortunately, she cannot disclose it, as our heroine has been dead for at least a year. Little by little, we learn about her from the narrator, the next Mrs. de Winter, as she interacts with a host of supporting characters. Rebecca is a maven, and it seems to me as if she is a forebear of Martha Stewart. The deeper that I get into this novel, I return to the title page to verify that I am not reading Jane Eyre. No, wait! It cannot be! They are zipping around in motorcars. At the onset, we are told the fate of Manderley, the de Winter estate. It is similar to that of ?????? Will Du Maurierís characters share a common fate with those of Charlotte Bronteís? I am intrigued by the enigmas. Rebecca is loved by everyone, but what is her secret? What is the next Mrs. de Winterís given name? Her husband never mentions it; to all else she is Mrs. de Winter. I wait while the narrator peels away the layers that reveal the true Rebecca. Finally, the end sends us back to the beginning. Holmes again. But, certainly not quite Finneganís Wake.
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again..." With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated grey stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired when she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room in the immense, foreboding house were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten-a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mr. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walks in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife - the late and hauntinly beautiful Rebecca.