Asha Seth's Reviews > Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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it was amazing
bookshelves: thrillers, 2013, 2019, favorites
Read 2 times. Last read December 26, 2019 to December 29, 2019.

The Plot:

A handmaid falls in love with a dashing widower Mr de Winter and accepts his marriage proposal and becomes the lady of Manderley. Little does she know about the past and haunt that Manderley is, of its real mistress, the late Rebecca de Winter.


Image Copyright: Asha Seth

The Review:

Maxim de Winter marries a handmaid half her age and brings her home to the ultimate, famous, pined for, dreamt of, Manderley. The new bride is haunted by the late Mrs Winter’s reputation and prestige and soon not only her marriage but life too will be threatened by her gothic presence in Manderley.

Now that I’ve finished reading it again, I revel in the afterthought of why this is my favorite novel of all times.

Let’s begin, shall we? Mind you, this is going to be one long review.

Our young unnamed narrator swooning over Maximilian de Winter is only eager to accept his marriage proposal and goes packing off to Manderley after a fortnight of meeting the dashing owner of the popular estate. Now I’d be damned if I say this is a story of two people – One alive and another dead, the two Mrs de Winters. This is the story of Manderley. The de Winter’s mansion. And that and only that is the overbearing protagonist of this masterpiece.

Really few books have had openings as stunning as this novel. The one solemn line,

Last night I dreamt, I went to Manderley again.

sets the nostalgic, intriguing, longing-filled mood of the novel. That the novel takes on a dark tone interlaced with the gothic theme is revealed only after the first 50 odd pages when the new bride meets the sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers. It is this woman who holds the strings to almost everything transpiring under the roofs of Manderley, and time and again makes it clear about her undying, unnatural devotion to the late mistress.

The narrator is forever intimidated by the dead Rebecca and this devoted housekeeper and her struggles to live up to the reputation of her successor is quite apparent until the big mystery around Rebecca’s true disposition is revealed. But with that, now she has to decide if Maxim is really the man she married, and if now her marriage is a colossal failure as the maids, the housekeeper, neighbors, and friends, have been desperate to declare.

On one hand, as the austere setting of Manderley slowly sketch the influential figure Rebecca had grown to be, we also observe the newly-wed bride grow up from her shy, feared, inhibition-driven self to a mature woman who can take up the reins of Manderley, and cast Rebecca’s shadow out of her life and that of her beloved’s.

In a span of a few months, and a few rather grim episodes, the author has impeccably established each and everyone’s contributions that define the mood of Manderley that make it stand out as one of the most prominent literary figures of all times. It is quite interesting to observe that despite striving hard none of the male figures in the plot gain any importance and come out as weak side casts.

The narrator is not much of a prim figure but manages to cut a significant piece in the prose despite the fact that she abhors herself and in turn, the reader comes to loathe her too for her lack of nerve and spine. All in all, it is for the incompetent Mrs de Winter the second that this novel could be termed one long monologue of self-introspection born out of self-pity, and that is one trait I detest in a main character. On the other hand, Rebecca is everything a woman would want to be, from her character sketches, before the big reveal on her true nature.

What I’ve always generously liked about this book however, is the estate Manderley. It holds more prominence and substance than all the characters of the story put together. It is dark, menacing, overbearing, and yet emerges to be powerfully glorious in its sublime presence even after being reduced to ashes as the start of the novel wonderfully establishes.

I could go on and on, for it isn’t for nothing that this novel is called the ultimate literary successes of all times bringing Maurier the fame she hardly anticipated.

I pretty much love everything Maurier wrote and I am so glad that I am from a generation that still knows and reads her works. Her prose comes from a place not many authors dare to explore and that is what makes all of her pieces masterworks of fiction.

Come to think of it, I do not adore My Cousin Rachel or Jamaica Inn or Frenchman’s Creek or any of her short stories any less than I do Rebecca because they are all so rich, such powerful female protagonists, wonderfully gothic themes, astonishing settings, and unforgettably striking plot moods.

I am yet to come across authors who would delve into the human psyche and come out with such strong myriad characters who promise to live with you for ages to come. This characteristic was standard of Tolstoy and perhaps, because I have been a Tolstoy admirer since forever, it was easier for me to fall in love with Maurier for the same sweet reason.

In a nutshell, Rebecca is a book not to be read, but to let it devour you, to feel its teeth on your conscience, to feel yourself sink and drown in its torrents of jealousy, of obsession, of immature inhibitions, of hopeless romance. And then whether you come out of it feeling glorified that you’ve read one of the best literatures of all times or feeling subdued for a maid haunted by her predecessor, is something I’d like to chat about.

If you happen to read ‘Rebecca’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.

©Asha Seth
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Quotes Asha Liked

Daphne du Maurier
“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is
alone.”
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier
“Will you look into my eyes and tell me that you love me now?”
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier
“We've got a bond in common, you and I. We are both alone in the world.”
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier
“A dreamer, I walked enchanted, and nothing held me back.”
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier
“Why did dogs make one want to cry? There was something so quiet and hopeless about their sympathy. Jasper, knowing something was wrong, as dogs always do. Trunks being packed. Cars being brought to the door. Dogs standing with drooping tails, dejected eyes. Wandering back to their baskets in the hall when the sound of the car dies away.”
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
tags: dogs


Reading Progress

May 18, 2012 – Shelved
August 11, 2013 – Shelved as: thrillers
September 2, 2013 – Started Reading
September 2, 2013 –
page 25
6.3%
September 2, 2013 –
page 45
11.34%
September 9, 2013 –
page 155
39.04%
September 19, 2013 –
page 210
52.9%
September 20, 2013 –
page 255
64.23%
September 24, 2013 –
page 301
75.82%
September 25, 2013 –
page 345
86.9%
September 26, 2013 – Finished Reading
December 21, 2017 – Shelved as: 2013
December 26, 2019 – Started Reading
December 26, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
December 26, 2019 – Shelved as: favorites
December 26, 2019 –
page 150
37.78%
December 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Bharath Rebecca certainly leaves a lasting impression - the story, the characters and also the writing style...In fact, after the first 50-60 pages thought it was too slow a book, but thankfully persisted and read the full book..


Asha Seth Bharath wrote: "Rebecca certainly leaves a lasting impression - the story, the characters and also the writing style...In fact, after the first 50-60 pages thought it was too slow a book, but thankfully persisted ..."

I agree. And in fact, that happens many times when the introspective monologues take over the narration. But the persisting suspense and gothic feel of the story keeps one hanging in.


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