I hesitated when deciding on a star rating for this book. When it's good, it's very very good; Donaghue really can write. Anne Damer is the most interI hesitated when deciding on a star rating for this book. When it's good, it's very very good; Donaghue really can write. Anne Damer is the most interesting character, and the story was strongest when focused on her. Rumours of "sapphism" plague her, although she swears there is no truth in them. And yet, her warm friendships with women are tinged with jealousy, while she recoils from romantic or matrimonial entanglements with men. How long, the reader wonders, can she continue to deny her own nature, even to herself?
The other main characters are Eliza and Derby. Derby's devotion and Eliza's insistence on keeping her virtue (Derby is still legally married, although long separated from his wife) seem touching at first. However, when Eliza tells Anne that she thinks Derby "a silly man", I lost patience with her and wished for the interminable courtship to end.
The political background (the madness of King George, the French revolution) provides an interesting backdrop, but too much of it is background noise. Politicians and aristocrats walk on and off, seeming interchangeable (apart from some colourful souls like Walpole and Lady Georgiana). Far too many events are described second-hand or were only tangentially related to the overall plot.
If the book focused more on the personal relationships, and tried less to cram in a history lesson, I would have given a 4 or 5 star. ...more
Few novels have soundtracks, but this one did, at least in my head. For the first few chapters, I couldn't help hearing the theme from The Good, The BFew novels have soundtracks, but this one did, at least in my head. For the first few chapters, I couldn't help hearing the theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Genres are criss-crossed seamlessly: the gunslinger is a character from a Western, walking through a post-Apocalyptic world, with flashbacks to a Medieval fantasy setting, and there are flashes of typical Kingsian horror. The titular character is enigmatic and morally dubious, and the ending is intriguing enough for me to add the next in the series (The Drawing of the Three) to my wish list....more
When I was fourteen years old, I took a book out from the library. The book had a red cover and one word, a woman's name, in huge letters across the fWhen I was fourteen years old, I took a book out from the library. The book had a red cover and one word, a woman's name, in huge letters across the front. Rebecca. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." It turned into one of the most intense reading experiences of my life. For two days or so, I couldn't sleep or do my homework or think of any of the multitude of adolescent concerns that played into my normal life. "They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word." I identified to an unhealthy extent with the shy and insecure narrator. I found Maxim both intriguing and frustrating. I liked his sister Beatrice, one of the few to show kindness to the poor narrator. I felt Rebecca's presence, long-dead as she was, haunting the pages. And Mrs Danvers... "You're not happy. Mr. de Winter doesn't love you. There's not much for you to live for, is there? Why don't you jump now and have done with it?" Ah, Mrs Danvers. Has there ever been a villain like Mrs Danvers? Forever devoted to the dead Rebecca, beyond cruel to her replacement. She is evil and yet so very human. “The moment of crisis had come, and I must face it. My old fears, my diffidence, my shyness, my hopeless sense of inferiority, must be conquered now and thrust aside.” Does our nameless heroine triumph? Is Maxim really the hero she thinks he is? Who was Rebecca, in reality? No spoilers here.... “We can never go back again, that much is certain." I'm almost afraid to re-read Rebecca. Maybe it isn't as good as I remember it, maybe adolescent hormones and imagination made it so. But few books have left such a long-lasting effect on me, so there must have been something there. I only know that I was captured, from first line to last. "And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.” ...more