Rosana's Reviews > Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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Jan 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2013, audio-books, bookish-s13-challenge
Read 2 times. Last read July 30, 2013 to August 11, 2013.

I finished Rebecca a couple of days ago and had since been thinking of it as I intended to write a review in here. Then, this morning I opened a book at random - Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach – and there, under the entry for May 26 (I did open this at random), I found this quote from Rebecca:

This was a woman’s room, graceful, fragile, the room of someone who had chosen every particle of furniture with great care, so that each chair, each vase, each small infinitesimal thing should be in harmony with one another and with her own personality. It was as though she who had arranged this room has said: “This I will have, and this, and this,’ taking piece by piece from the treasures in Manderley each object that pleased her best, ignoring the second-rate, the mediocre, laying her hand with sure and certain instinct only upon the best.

I love when I experience such moments of literary serendipity. It was almost uncanny that I had found this specific quote, as I remember it well from when I heard it (oh yes, I listened to it in audio). The young Mrs. De Winter was describing the previous Mrs. De Winter’s morning room, and I remember thinking what great power of description Daphne Du Maurie had: while bringing this room to life she was also telling us so much about the deceased Rebecca.

The book is a long monologue by young Mrs. DeWinter, of whom we never learn her first name, only that it was unusual. But through her narration we are enveloped by the beauty of Manderley, a place that is as much a character in this book as the people in it, and we started to learn of all of the other characters. Here again Daphne Du Maurier surprised me. The characters are multi-dimensional, full of flaws, but through their shortcomings: Maxim’s pride, Mrs. Danver’s revengefulness and grief, and even Rebecca’s egocentricity ‘ they became more human in our eyes.

I should say that I had trouble finding sympathy for young Mrs. De Winter though. I realize she was young, naïve and in love, and that she was put into a completely dysfunctional situation yet I wanted to shake her a few times. Maybe my lack of kindness comes not from lack of familiarity with her situation, but because I do see myself in the mirror here. No, I never married a widower with an overbearing housekeeper, but I have been in situations where I was the new arrival, the new kid in the block, the junior employee in the office, the new member of the board, the new bride, the young mother, the new person joining an internet group… and I blundered. I hesitated because of fear or because I wanted to be accepted and I only made things worst.

This is getting long, but I have more to say about this book. I liked that it defies genre. It was a romance, but had such gothic elements to it, then it veered very close into mystery terrain. More than anything it was a very sharp commentary into class relation and British society of the period. I dare say that Du Maurier is as discriminating as Jane Austen in social commentary. The difference being that in Austen’s writing the social commentary is at the center of her stories, where Daphne Du Maurier puts it at the background, almost part of the scenery she describes so well.

I don’t know why it took me so long to read Daphne Du Maurier, but I am very glad I finally did.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (ebook Edition)
January 24, 2011 – Shelved
July 30, 2013 – Started Reading
August 7, 2013 –
0.0% "I am listening to this one in audio, and loving it... I don't know why it took me long to get to it."
August 11, 2013 – Finished Reading
October 12, 2015 – Shelved (ebook Edition)

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Alex "No, I never married a widower with an overbearing housekeeper"

Man, and I can't recommend it. Such a drag.

Great review!

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