A fantastic novel. I don't know how I missed reading this one years ago, but I'm glad I picked it up when I did. It was exactly the kind of book I nee...moreA fantastic novel. I don't know how I missed reading this one years ago, but I'm glad I picked it up when I did. It was exactly the kind of book I needed this week - well written, engaging, at times dark and mysterious and at others a look at how lost a "silly" young girl can be when out of her element. I'd seen bits and pieces of the BBC version on TV, so while I knew the premise of the story going into this, I didn't know the twist - and it was a good one! And who knew a housekeeper could be so terribly creepy?
Although the narrator was naive, needy, and sometimes not the sharpest tool in the shed, I found myself sympathizing with her. She's thrown into a world she knows nothing about, knowing that she will always be compared to her beloved predecessor. Her main concern seems to be what others will think of her - she constantly imagines the conversations that the household staff or the town gossips will be having about her, and admits freely that it's one of these imagined conversations that push her to go downstairs to the fancy dress party. When she loses this towards the end of the novel, and gains some confidence in her position as mistress of Manderley, I think she lost a little personality as well; even Maxim bemoans the loss of her innocence and youth.
The way du Maurier can set a mood is wonderful, though. It could be supremely creepy, have an underlying sense of danger, or, as it did for the last few chapters, make me a nervous wreck, right along with the narrator. Loved it! (less)
Whenever anyone asks me what my all-time favorite book is, this is the one I tell them. And it's true. I started reading it once when I was younger, b...moreWhenever anyone asks me what my all-time favorite book is, this is the one I tell them. And it's true. I started reading it once when I was younger, but I wasn't quite ready for it yet and I couldn't get past the first chapter. When I picked it up again a couple of years later, I fell for it. I remember hating Mrs. Reed and her children - especially John - with such a passion, I wished I could reach through the book and wring their necks until they gained some sense. Mr. Brocklehurst, too. And being terrified when she was stuck in the red room. I've reread it at least five times since then, and it always seems that I come across a scene or a character that I've forgotten about in the year or two since I read it last. In college, I wrote a paper on it and came across interpretations that I'd never even began to consider, prompting careful rereading of most of the chapters once again. I think it was the first real "literary" book I read as a kid, and possibly the first book that made me feel so strongly for the characters (whether it was hate or love) - that just may be why nothing has been able to replace it as my favorite.(less)