What it’s about:
The unnamed narrator of Rebecca is working as a paid companion to a bitter, lonely, elderly lady. While on a trip to Monte Carlo, she meets and falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower twice her age, who proposes to her and whisks her away to his isolated Cornish estate, Manderley, after marrying abroad. As she gets settled into her new home, the young bride realises she doesn’t really know her husband at all, and feels that they are haunted by his beautiful first wife, Rebecca. This is a story about a woman consumed by love, struggling to find her identity after being thrust into a world where she is not comfortable and is always compared to her husbands late wife.
*Warning: Spoilers ahead!*
I came across this novel when I was looking at Good Reads list of books that everyone should read at some point. Upon hearing about it, and up until I actually started reading it, I believed Rebecca to be a simple Gothic romance novel. However, I soon realised that this story is more complicated and compelling than I initially thought.
This is a curl up with a cup of tea and a blanket on a gloomy, rainy day kind of book. The characters and the plot itself just captivates you, making this novel such an easy and enjoyable read. At first, the story is very reminiscent of Jane Eyre – the main characters both being young, innocent girls who fall in love with older men, with something standing in the way of their happiness. However, while the themes are similar, du Maurier has reinvented this classic storyline, and turned it into a hauntingly suspenseful novel in her own way.
While reading it, I felt increasingly sorry for the second Mrs de Winter. She is young, she doesn’t know how to act in her marriage, she is uncomfortable in her husbands home, where his staff adored his late wife, the late wife who lingers in every room of Manderley. It was only after i finished the novel that I realised that the second Mrs de Winter was timid, naive, jealous and insecure. She was afraid of the housekeeper, was always paranoid about what everybody else was saying about her, and didn’t really make thing happen for herself. She tells herelf that she is content in her marriage, when in reality her husband does not love her as she loves him, and they’re stuck in a routine as they move from hotel to hotel once Manderley is gone. It takes a great writer to make the audience feel sympathetic towards that kind of character, in my opinion.
Also, I know we’re supposed to hate Rebecca, the beautiful first wife, the woman the second wife can never seem to be, and who turns out to be extremely cruel and cold-hearted. While I don’t Rebecca as a character, I can’t help but admire her care-free attitude and her ability to make what she wants happen. It’s no mistake that the two wive of Maxim de Winter are complete opposites.
I honestly loved this book, and I can’t wait to read it again in a few months (I’m that person who has to constantly re-read her books because she can’t afford new ones at the rate she reads – *sob*). To anyone who thinks it’s your standard romantic novel, it definitely is not, so you should give it a chance!
Until next time,