Words can never quite express the love I feel for this book. I first discovered du Maurier when I was 16, one of my best friends suggested it to me after she loved it. It’s since been one of my favourite books. I genuinely cannot put in to words how much I adore this book. It’s now one of those books that I read more slowly to just savour, to find new things in because I just don’t want to let it go too soon.
My only issue is that I didn’t have a blanket in which to snuggle in when reading this. Ideally I would have had a mighty fluffy blanket, hot chocolate, a onesie and a full, uninterrupted Saturday to enjoy this. Alas, that didn’t happen but I don’t mind. Spreading this book over several days I seemed to appreciate it more, oddly enough.
Acording to goodreads, this is the 7th time I’ve read this book. I don’t think (other than the Harry Potter series) I’ve read any other book more than twice. So I think I’m going to build on the review that I have established and edited over the years and tell you why this book is amazing.
Rebecca is du Maurier’s 5th, and best known, novel. It follows a period in the life of a woman that we know only as Mrs de Winter. We start at the end, with the ever so beautiful opening line of “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. It’s an opening line that just sends shivers down my spine, the more I read the book, the less I wonder whether it’s a dream or a nightmare that she had. We then move back, an undetermined period of time, to when the narrator met Mr Maxim de Winter, we learn briefly how they fell in love and how she moves to his estate – Manderley – where the knowledge of his previous wife, Rebecca, grows. Though Rebecca died over a year ago, the house is still overwhelmed by her presence.
Mrs de Winter finds it hard to live in the shadow if this flawless woman, she has serious anxiety issues going on beneath the surface. The only certain knowledge we have of her is that she is young and is in possession of an unusual name (which we never learn). I remember the first time I read Rebecca, I was confused as to why we never know her as more than Mrs de Winter, we never get the personal touch and throughout the years I’ve come to appreciate the lack of her name. It adds a mystery to the story, but also establishes that she is Mrs de Winter, not Rebecca. Mrs de Winter is said to have ‘felt like a child’ and rather insignificant in the shadow of Rebecca and I also think that’s a reason why we never know her as more than her title, to emphasise her lack of ‘person’ in the house, we don’t know her as personally as we know Rebecca. I can’t properly explain it, but I do appreciate it more thoroughly now I’ve read the book a number of times.
Rebecca is the most developed, rounded character in the story. Even though our narrator didn’t know her, we learn about her through every other person and it’s very easy to imagine Rebecca. By the end of the novel, you do understand Rebecca more than you understand anyone else. You know how she talked and walked, how she ran her house and dressed.
Over the course of the story, Mrs de Winter begins to ask questions about Rebecca and her past with her husband; attempting to understand how she managed to ensnare everyone she met. However, as the story progresses, Mrs de Winter discovers that not everyone at Manderley has been completely honest with her, and Rebecca herself is what lays at the heart of the web of secrets. How everything unfolds never fails to astound me, I can’t lie. Even though I know the story, in some places I can quote, it never surprises me. Gah. The feels.
This reading, I felt sorry for Mrs Danvers in parts, which surprised me! I’ve never liked her much before, but I think it was pretty clear that she loved Rebecca. She was, at least, completely infatuated and enthralled by her and as she was her nanny when she was young, it’s unlikely that it was a sexual-love, but more an all-consuming love. She was entirely subservient to her and there’s no doubt that if Rebecca said “jump” she would ask “how high?”, so it does place a question mark above the full nature of their relationship. Essentially though, Mrs Danvers was trying to keep her alive and why I don’t agree with her methods, or her madness, I can empathise with her in a way. These are very new feelings!
I think it’s very clear how much I love this book, I could very happily go on for hours about it in one way or another. It is by far my favourite book of all time and I will never be able to thank the amazing woman in the bookshop who sold this edition to me because it is going to be so, so treasured!
Also, when I was reading this I felt that there needed to be a new film adaptation. Why there hasn’t been a new one is a mystery to me! As I was going through I was thinking who I would want to play each part and I’ve not really come to any conclusions, which sucks! My mind kept flipping between two or three people for each role, I’ve established in my head I’d like a British cast but I really don’t know who my dreamcast would be. I’d like suggestions though so if anyone wants to comment below with ideas for a dreamcast, go ahead!