Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽'s Reviews > Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, suspense, classics, wallowing-in-misery-and-angst, bingo-2016, gothic
Read 2 times. Last read April 25, 2016 to May 5, 2016.

Manderley and I had a much more successful visit this time around, as compared to the first time I read this book several years ago. Here's the key: This is not a romance novel. It's a psychological suspense novel. As I reread Rebecca with this in mind, I had a much greater appreciation for its artistry, the way Daphne du Maurier skillfully used words to create a mood and increase the suspense.
We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic - now mercifully stilled, thank God - might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion as it had before.
The narrator, a young and painfully self-conscious girl, is a paid companion to Mrs. Van Hopper, a snobbish social climber. While they are in Monte Carlo, Mrs. Van Hopper bulldozes her way into an acquaintance with a quiet widower, Maxim de Winter. Despite our heroine's lack of status and social graces, Maxim begins spending time with her and soon asks her to marry him.

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Desperately in love with him, she does so, despite the vast differences in their ages, wealth, status ... just about everything. And despite his frequent rudeness and mockery of her.

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After a too-brief honeymoon, they return to England and Maxim's lovely country estate, Manderley, presided over by the skeletal housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who instantly takes a dislike to the new Mrs. de Winter. Mrs. Danvers does her best to undercut the main character's lack of confidence in every way possible, but mostly by holding up Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, as an impossible standard of beauty, taste and accomplishment, a standard that the second can never hope to reach.

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The second wife becomes more and more haunted by this paragon, Rebecca, even though there are clues in the things Maxim, his sister and others say - and don't say - that maybe there is more to Rebecca's character than the second wife realizes.

I found it fascinating how du Maurier tells you the end in the beginning, in such a way that it doesn't spoil the story at all, but adds to the underlying tension and sense of oppression. The second Mrs. de Winter thinks they are contented, and perhaps they are, but they are deeply damaged as well, living a sort of half-life.

Mrs. Danvers is quite the character: one wonders how much her presence in Rebecca's childhood influenced the person Rebecca became. And Rebecca herself ... well, without getting into spoiler territory, she has an amazing presence in this novel for someone who's dead before it even starts.

I have to say that the second Mrs. de Winter's paralyzing lack of self-confidence and her gaucherie, even though integral to the plot, was really irksome to me. And every time she'd start off into another daydream, which she did All. The. Time., imagining conversations and events out of whole cloth, I would mentally roll my eyes at her. But once I realized that this is not to be read as a romance novel (really, the relationship here is pretty unhealthy on both sides), I was free to appreciate the characters' shortcomings (instead of being frustrated by them) and to see how those shortcomings and their past experiences combine to bring them together, but pull them apart at the same time. It's a fascinating psychological study.

My rating has gone from 3, to 4, to 5 stars. It's a book that has really stuck with me.

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Between the well-drawn, seriously flawed characters, the brooding atmosphere, with a feeling that disaster is just waiting for the right moment to strike, and the great plot twists, Rebecca is deservedly a classic in its genre.

Initial comments:
I read Rebecca maybe 15 or 20 years ago and didn't really care for it back then. I'm not entirely sure now of the reasons why, but I think it may have been that I was expecting more of a romance with some nice happy feels at the end? So now that my expectations have been adjusted, we're going to give this another shot.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
March 8, 2013 – Shelved
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: suspense
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: classics
April 13, 2016 – Shelved as: wallowing-in-misery-and-angst
April 25, 2016 – Started Reading
April 25, 2016 – Shelved as: bingo-2016
April 26, 2016 –
page 54
14.21% "... And a woman comes in, smiling, she is Maxim's sister, and she is saying, "It's really wonderful how happy you have made him, everyone is so pleased, you are such a success." Mrs. de Winter. I would be Mrs. de Winter.\n \n "The rest of the tangerine is sour, I shouldn't eat it," he said, and I stared at him, the words going slowly to my head..."
April 30, 2016 –
page 70
18.42% "A black figure stood waiting for me at the head of the stairs, the hollow eyes watching me intently from the white skull's face. ...\n \n I was alone now with Mrs. Danvers."
May 1, 2016 –
page 134
35.26% ""Tell me," I said, my voice casual, not caring a bit, "tell me, was Rebecca very beautiful?"\n \n Frank waited a moment. I could not see his face. He was looking away from me towards the house. "Yes," he said slowly, "yes, I suppose she was the most beautiful creature I ever saw in my life.""
May 3, 2016 –
page 200
52.63% ""What the devil are you thinking about?" said Maxim.\n \n I started, the colour flooding my face, for in that brief moment ... I had so identified myself with Rebecca that my own dull self did not exist, had never come to Manderley. I had gone back in thought and in person to the days that were gone."
May 4, 2016 –
page 246
64.74% ""It's no use, is it?" she said. "You'll never get the better of her. She's still mistress here, even if she is dead. She's the real Mrs. de Winter, not you. It's you that's the shadow and the ghost.""
May 5, 2016 – Finished Reading
May 25, 2016 – Shelved as: gothic
May 27, 2019 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)

Comments Showing 1-38 of 38 (38 new)

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Heather *Awkward Queen and Unicorn Twin* I look forward to your thoughts!

I was going to recommend Frenchman's Creek to you for a romantic du Maurier, but then I saw you didn't like it. The King's General is another of her romantic stories that I liked. :)


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Heather *live on coffee and flowers* wrote: "I look forward to your thoughts!

I was going to recommend Frenchman's Creek to you for a romantic du Maurier, but then I saw you didn't like it..."


Yeah, I had issues with Frenchman's Creek: I didn't like the heroine's personality, and I dislike romances where there's cheating going on. :/ Maybe I'll give The King's General a shot sometime, thanks!


Sana Souames Jamaica inn and the house on the strand are my favourites, like you I was disappointed by Rebecca


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Sana wrote: "Jamaica inn and the house on the strand are my favourites, like you I was disappointed by Rebecca"

You still gave it 5 stars even though you were disappointed? You're nicer than I am. :)


debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister I am in too! Yoooo hooo!


Morgan You know what, it didn't even cross my mind how much Mrs. Danvers must have affected young Rebecca! From the way Mrs. Danvers completely idolizes her and acts as if she has no faults, it makes sense why Rebecca would grow up to think she was too good for anyone or anything.


message 7: by Tara (last edited May 06, 2016 02:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara Great review, Tadiana! My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier is another fantastic read. ;-)


Gabriela Great point about Rebecca's childhood. I also found Mrs de Winter annoying but it didn't stop me of enjoying the book. Honestly, it was fun to laugh on her naïvety. The only thing I didn't quite like was Mr. de Winter, I don't think we can trust all that he says about Rebecca and the truth about the boat was a soap opera scene in my mind.


message 9: by April (new) - added it

April I'm glad that you liked it better this time around!!


message 10: by Navidad (new) - added it

Navidad Thélamour On my to read list!


message 11: by S.K. (new)

S.K. Rizzolo Time for a re-read. I love this book!


Ashley I was impressed by how well Du Maurier imagined the insecurities that can come along with being a second wife, even though she wasn't in that position herself.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Ashley wrote: "I was impressed by how well Du Maurier imagined the insecurities that can come along with being a second wife, even though she wasn't in that position herself."

Good point -- even though she's an extreme case of that, she was still a very believable character for me. Maybe that's one reason she frustrated me.

Gabriela wrote: "The only thing I didn't quite like was Mr. de Winter, I don't think we can trust all that he says about Rebecca ... "

That's an interesting idea that hadn't occurred to me! I think, though, that the comments by other characters who knew her support that Maxim is telling the truth.


Nandakishore Varma Fantastic review, Tadiana. I loved this book because (view spoiler).


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Nandakishore wrote: "Fantastic review, Tadiana. I loved this book because [spoilers removed]."

Thanks, Nanda, and I completely agree: Rebecca (view spoiler).


message 16: by Nandakishore (last edited May 25, 2016 08:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nandakishore Varma Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ wrote: "Nandakishore wrote: "Fantastic review, Tadiana. I loved this book because [spoilers removed]."

Thanks, Nanda, and I completely agree: Rebecca [spoilers removed]."


(view spoiler)


Jyosthna Medithi wat happened in the end?


Licha The MC also annoyed me to no end. I can't say I was too fond of her. And I seriously hated when she went off on a tangent imagining conversations or events that hadn't happened and dreams she had that I could have cared less about. Thanks to one of those dream sequences the ending lost some impact for me.


Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ Excellent review, Tadiana! This is a book I need to pick up.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ wrote: "Excellent review, Tadiana! This is a book I need to pick up."

Do it, Jess! I'd love to see what you think about it. Just remember: It's. Not. A. Romance. ;)


Tandie Maybe the reason I hated it was my expectation of a gothic romance?


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Tandie wrote: "Maybe the reason I hated it was my expectation of a gothic romance?"

Probably! That was pretty much my problem on my first read, and this is NOT a couple you want to identify with. Try rereading it sometime with a different set of expectations. I'm really glad I did.


message 23: by Alexandra (new) - added it

Alexandra I'm completely surprised at the number of GRers who *do* have this shelved as "Romance" lol. Enjoyed your review, had this on my list to try for ages, need to get around to it.


✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) You're making me want to reread it, Tadiana! It's always good to remind people that this is not a romance. I'm pretty sure that many readers wouldn't be so disapointed in the book if they knew that before digging in:)


Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ wrote: "Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ wrote: "Excellent review, Tadiana! This is a book I need to pick up."

Do it, Jess! I'd love to see what you think about it. Just remember: It's. Not. A. R..."


Of course this makes me like the prospect even better!


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Haha, yes, I should have remembered that. You'll probably love this book, then. You'll want to punch out Maxim, but just remember that that's okay! And Mrs. Danvers is really delightfully creepy.


Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ I own and really love the old Hitchcock movie, so I can't wait to read the source material:)


Ginger This book was lovely. Glad you liked it a second time around!
You are right, it sticks with you.


message 29: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne I first read this when I was younger, so I'm anticipating my reread soon! I really love this book - probably one of my favorite classics. I hope it will be as good!


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Anne wrote: "I first read this when I was younger, so I'm anticipating my reread soon! I really love this book - probably one of my favorite classics. I hope it will be as good!"

I'm sure you'll love it!


message 31: by twice_baked✌️ (last edited Aug 05, 2018 11:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

twice_baked✌️ I just didn't like the aspect of his (view spoiler). I liked the way the movie made him out to be in the end. Other than that, I agree - I love the way the book comes across as creepy and reading it as a romance novel is going to ruin the book. :)


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ I don’t know, I think that made the story stronger for me in the end. Did Hollywood give this (view spoiler) It’s been so long since I watched this movie...


message 33: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey Hollywood was forced to change it because (view spoiler). Hitchcock apologized to Du Maurier for that.

I loved seeing how Rebecca haunted everything with just her memory. Lots of great literary discussion fuel there.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Audrey wrote: "Hollywood was forced to change it because [spoilers removed]. Hitchcock apologized to Du Maurier for that."

That's interesting! And also not nearly as powerful for the story, IMO. Sorry, twice baked, I prefer the original twist. :)


message 35: by twice_baked✌️ (last edited Aug 05, 2018 11:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

twice_baked✌️ Haha totally fine with me, but I love Olivier and Fontaine and having (view spoiler) would just kill his character for me. And it also makes Rebecca seem even more of a jerk than she already was, so it wasn't like oh but he was a jerk too, soo...ig everybody's a jerk! That's the way it came across to me, in the book. :) But I am glad somebody likes the ending! It's still good.


Valerie Best Such a fav! So glad you enjoyed it this time around!


message 37: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey I came out feeling his actions were justified, so he’s not a “bad guy” to me despite what he did.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Audrey wrote: "I came out feeling his actions were justified, so he’s not a “bad guy” to me despite what he did."

I agree. He's messed up psychologically, probably permanently, but I don't condemn him for his actions. It makes him a truly interesting character.


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