The protagonist meets a mysterious older gentleman in Monte Carlo while she is working as a paid companion to an annoying wealthy American. Maxim de W...moreThe protagonist meets a mysterious older gentleman in Monte Carlo while she is working as a paid companion to an annoying wealthy American. Maxim de Winter immediately sweeps her off her feet, marries her, and takes her to Manderley, his ancestral home on the coast of England. She knows his first wife drowned in a boating accident but not much more. Life at Manderley is a struggle for this young woman who has not been born to privilege. No one is more hostile than the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who had a particularly close relationship with Rebecca, the previous Mrs. de Winter. As the story unfolds, the protagonist continues to lose her self-confidence as she doubts her relationship with her husband and the truth about Rebecca's death.
This is a brilliant exploration of identity and relationships. The most interesting aspect of the book to me is the fact that du Maurier manages to write a suspenseful and enthralling story that is not full of action.
I've seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie multiple times, so I was excited when someone suggested we read this for our next book club selection. I was surprised at how closely the movie follows the book with only one major change which I won't reveal because it would spoil the book and the movie for you. What I really find interesting in this book is the main character's internal monologue of imagined situations. This had the surprising effect of helping me to sympathize with her more instead of being annoyed by her weak character. I too have a tendency to imagine the worst possible scenario and get myself worked up.
Mrs. Danvers, if possible, is even creepier in book format. All in all, this book is a consuming and thought provoking thriller. I can't wait for our discussion next week. (less)
I hadn't read this book since high school, and I didn't really remember anything about it. I do remember that I didn't particularly care for it, but I...moreI hadn't read this book since high school, and I didn't really remember anything about it. I do remember that I didn't particularly care for it, but I was prompted by the upcoming movie to read it again, and I'm glad I did. This is definitely an anti-hero story; no one in the book is particularly "good" or moral, but you can't look away. Even the narrator, who is not really an actor but an observer, goes along with whatever insanity the others propose without a blink.
It's really Jay Gatsby's quest to become a powerful man and win the love of Daisy Buchanan that is the center of the novel. It doesn't matter what kind of man he is really; it's just important that he be perceived as wealthy, powerful, and comfortable in his wealth. Of course, in the end, none of it matters, and the false life he has created leaves him with no real friends.
I'm not sure I had the capacity to appreciate this book with my limited life experience in high school, and though I don't particularly admire the characters now, I can't stop thinking about them and the story.(less)