I always put off reading this story because I thought it was a romance. Granted I based this solely off the book cover, so imagine my delight as I got older and heard that it was instead, decidedly Gothic and creepy.
The entire story is told through a flashback of events that occurred when the unnamed narrator is a hired companion for Mrs. Van Hopper, a gossipy brute of a woman. While traveling through Monte Carlo, they meet Maxim de Winter, whose story is one that Mrs. Van Hopper willingly offers up. Maxim's recent loss of his first wife Rebecca is a sad fate, and as the young narrator spends more time with him, they decide within only a few weeks that they will get married and move to his estate, entitled Manderley.
But upon arriving to Maxim's estate, it becomes quite a different experience than she anticipated. The mansion is huge, with a full staff to keep up the house and grounds, and the ever-present ghost of the beautiful, social, and popular Rebecca is behind everything that is desirable about Manderley, and even the parties she's hosted are still talked about. But not only is she a part of Manderley's past, she is very much a part of a creepy and sinister presence about the house. Rebecca is everywhere that the new bride finds herself in - from the beautiful landscape of the grounds, the cove where Rebecca lost her life, the little cottage down by the sea that she used to rest in after she would go sailing. Rebecca is everywhere, and the new Mrs. De Winter, meek, quiet, and shy, cannot keep up. Even the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers is cold and intimidating, harboring secrets that make the new bride fearful. She knows she is being compared by the housekeeper, the visitors to the house on their social calls, and she can't quite help feeling like even Maxim is doing the same, ultimately wondering if he is contemplating if he made the right choice to marry her.
I loved this story. I've read Du Maurier's short stories last year and enjoyed them, but this struck me much more than anything else and was much, much creepier. It is beautiful and dark and perfect for autumn. I absolutely recommend this story
This book is as good as I remembered it from many years ago.
It's funny that everyone else seems to love this book, I found it boring and painful to get through. I liked the intrigue of the mystery surrounding the first wife, but it was lost amongst her overly active imagination and daydreaming. And I hated the ending. Or should I say, non-ending. Now I remember why I stopped reading this when it was required reading in school.
If you loved the movie, you will love reading about
Rebecca. It entails a loveless marriage that ended in
tragedy and ends the same way. This is a real good book.
One of my very favorite spooky stories.
This was one of the most bizarre books I've ever read in my life.
Let me begin by saying that du Maruier is not a bad writer. Her prose is often beautiful, but it's bogged down by overly detailed descriptions. Her skill in writing is also, in my opinion, wasted in trying to chronicle the attitudes and antics of such strange and unlikable characters.
The book begins with our unnamed narrator (I took the liberty of calling her 'Hortense' in my head) living in Monte Carlo with the woman she works for. There, she meets Mr. de Winter, a handsome widower, who for some reason takes a fancy to her. Hortense and Mr. de Winter go on a few drives and have dinner together, and all of a sudden she's in love with him. For a supposedly romantic book, I wasn't feeling the romance at all. Hortense notes several times that de Winter never mentions loving her or being happy with her, despite asking her to marry him. Strange sense of romance, if you ask me.
Once married, the two return to de Winter's estate, Manderley. Hortense quickly learns that the house still functions as if the first Mrs. de Winter was still alive - they have tea when she had it, arrange things as she arranged them, etc. Hortense makes no attempt to change anything, saying she's too shy to stand up to anyone. Her actions give shy people a bad name. I'm shy myself, but I'm not a spineless automaton who lives entirely inside my own head.
That brings me to my next point. So much of this book revolves around Hortense thinking about the past, future, or how the present could be different. The amount of pages we had dedicated to imagined conversations, what-ifs, and wishful desires was ridiculous. I could barely focus on the plot because every two paragraphs Hortense was breaking off to think about something else entirely. Many of the things were in her control to change, but Hortense doesn't take action. She acts as if she has no willpower. It was difficult to read about and impossible to empathize with such a strange, weak-willed character. She's supposedly 21 but acts more like a child of 10 or 11 - and a meek one at that.
Everyone in this book has an obsession with Rebecca. Hortense hates her and is jealous to the point of obsession. De Winter is obsessed with her essentially coming back and haunting him. Mrs. Danvers is just plain obsessed with her (I assume because she practically raised her). It's disturbing to read about a group of adults who are so fixated on one person. Very odd incident of hivemind that I don't even think the author knew she was creating.
The most bizarre part of the book was when Hortense learns that de Winter killed Rebecca (this plot point, by the way, was so obvious, I can't imagine anyone being surprised by it), all she can think is how great it is that he never actually loved Rebecca. What? You learn the man you're married to is a cold-blooded murderer and you're HAPPY about it? What kind of sane woman would have this reaction?
Speaking of marriage, now would probably be a good time to talk about the fact that their relationship is laughable. Once he's confessed to being a murderer, de Winter gushes about how much he loves Hortense, after treating her like an annoying guest at Manderley ever since they've been married. He's hardly paid any attention to her, much less tried to make her happy or at least comfortable. And last time I checked, you don't keep huge, disturbing, life-altering secrets from someone you truly love.
Since I mentioned it at the beginning of this review, I suppose I should elaborate on the overly detailed writing. We don't need three paragraphs about plants that Hortense saw in a dream, or half a page about what's being served for lunch. Conversations that Hortense was IMAGINING sometimes spanned entire pages. Why - just why was this written? Why?
To summarize: there was nothing romantic about this book. The 'suspenseful' plot twist could be seen coming from a mile away. The characters were detestable. This reads like a botched version of Jane Eyre with absolutely none of that novel's redeeming qualities.
So much more than expected!
I held off reading this book for a long time - even though it came highly recommended from varied sources -because the book itself is marketed as a romance. And I'm not fond of romances. While there is a story of love in the book, the unraveling of figuring out Rebecca is so much more than that.
This is a book that wants to defy classification. Mystery & suspense is where my gut says to place it, but it's unlike any other I've read. After a tad bit of a slow start, I simply HAD to keep reading and became completely engrossed.
This book was rightfully recommended to me, and I'm sorry I put off reading it as long as I did. You don't want to miss this fascinating book.
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 Mauriers characters share a common fate with those of Charlotte Brontes? I am intrigued by the enigmas. Rebecca is loved by everyone, but what is her secret? What is the next Mrs. de Winters 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 Finnegans Wake.
This is a WONDERFUL book, and so much better than the movie! (the Hitchcock version is the best, if you see it, by the way). Really wonderful.
Rebecca is a novel of mystery and passion, a dark psychological tale of secrets and betrayal, dead loves and an estate called Manderley that is as much a presence as the humans who inhabit it: "when the leaves rustle, they sound very much like the stealthy movement of a woman in evening dress, and when they shiver suddenly and fall, and scatter away along the ground, they might be the pitter, patter of a woman's hurrying footsteps, and the mark in the gravel the imprint of a high-heeled satin shoe." Manderley is filled with memories of the elegant and flamboyant Rebecca, the first Mrs. DeWinter; with the obsessive love of her housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who observes the young, timid second Mrs. DeWinter with sullen hostility; and with the oppressive silences of a secretive husband, Maxim. Rebecca may be physically dead, but she is a force to contend with, and the housekeeper's evil matches that of her former mistress as a purveyor of the emotional horror thrust on the innocent Mrs. DeWinter. The tension builds as the new Mrs. DeWinter slowly grows and asserts herself, surviving the wicked deceptions of Mrs. Danvers and the silent deceits of her husband, to emerge triumphant in the midst of a surprise ending that leaves the reader with a sense of haunting justice.
Fantastic book... reading Mrs. De Winter The Sequel to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca now. Then on to Rebecca's Tale.
I had to read this book back in the late 1980's/early 90's as required for Honors English in Highschool.. but even though I was required to read the book... I LOVED IT! I recommend it to people who enjoy books such as The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, etc.
The new Mrs. De Winter is made to feel worthless and can not meet up to the expectations of those around her who idolized Rebecca, the first wife, now deceased... She is young, insecure... but as the truth behind the first marriage unwinds you truly love and hate certain characters in the book!
I have re-read this book on occasion throughout the years, and the sequel. And I enjoy it more every time I read it... wondering does Max still love his dead wife... and the truth is sooo shocking!!
This book is so well written... and you can't help but to really feel for the characters.. each and every one..
This story will stay with you forever. It has the lush storytelling that the author is famous for and characters that make you feel deeply for them. This story is one of the few that truly makes you feel as if you are there, living in the story. It is a definite must for any fan of good literature. Although reading this book is a treat, it is one of those that is just as wonderful to hear read aloud. It allows you to just get lost in the story. I highly recommend it!
This is a very good book. I enjoyed reading this and it always kept me in suspence. There is a surprise on every page....
This is a must read.
Great book... Amazing author! Another book I read almost every year.
Not too impressive, for me.