Book Reviews

{Review} REBECCA, by Daphne du Maurier

{Review} REBECCA, by Daphne du MaurierREBECCA by Daphne du Maurier
Published by Little, Brown and Company on December 17, 2013
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Horror, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 449
Format: Paperback
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Rebecca is a work of immense intelligence and wit, elegantly written, thematically solid, suspenseful.." --Washington Post
"Daphne du Maurier created a scale by which modern women can measure their feelings." --Stephen King

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives--presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.

REBECCA, by Daphne du Maurier, is a novel that has a rich gothic atmosphere, incredibly memorable characters, and dark secrets and mystery all layered throughout. Despite the period in which it takes place, there were times when I found myself wanting to shout out some criticism or advice to the “people” written on the pages before me.

“. . . Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind . . .”

Even the very first words of this book captured my imagination, and began to stir questions within me.

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again . . . “

We follow the path of a young companion to an elderly matron, as she is met by a rich, widowed, older man–Maxim de Winter. Very soon after, she is whisked away to a life of luxury she has never known. Now newly married, she is the new “Mrs. de Winter”.

“. . . there was a frightened furtive seed of curiosity that grew slowly and stealthily . . . and I knew all the doubt and the anxiety of the child who has been told, ‘these things are not discussed’ . . . “

The novel showcases the difference in casts, and primarily examines the contrast between Maxim’s new wife, and the ease with which his first wife–the beautiful and enigmatic, Rebecca–fulfilled her role in this society. Just how is a timid young woman supposed to think of herself in terms of importance when all around her, at the beloved mansion known as Manderly, are cruel reminders that she will NEVERbe like the incomparable Rebecca?

“. . . They came because they wanted to compare me to Rebecca . . . “

The Gothic atmosphere is wonderfully apparent all throughout this book. From the servants, Maxim’s friends, and even Manderly itself–a large greystone mansion on the Cornish coast–there is a shroud of mystery blanketing the entire tale.

“. . . There is a certain type of knowledge I prefer you not to have. It’s better kept under lock and key . . . “

What begins as being merely uncomfortable for Maxim’s new bride, steadily ratchets up in terms of uncertainty, suspense, anxiety, and even fear. The author masterfully weaves the elements into the narrative so that there is no jolting “happiness to terror”, but rather a build up that happens so fluidly that you’ll find yourself never wanting to part with this book until that final page.

“. . . Do you think that the dead come back and watch the living?”

Overall, as this was my first novel by Daphne du Maurier, I was completely entranced by her literary style. Her words so easily conveyed the emotions of the characters, it was as if I was watching people I actually knew and understood intimately.

“. . . I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone . . . “

From an innocent bride, a stand-offish husband, a mysterious death, and nefarious servants, REBECCA is a book that has elements most every reader can connect with. If the imagery and untouchable beauty of Manderly doesn’t captivate you, the lively characters and the myriad of strong feelings and beliefs will.

“Rebecca, always Rebecca . . . “

Highly recommended!

About Daphne du Maurier

About Daphne Du Maurier


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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