Thursday, October 20, 2011
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Synopsis From Back Cover:
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley Again."
So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse of the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten... her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant - the sinister Mrs. Danvers - still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca... for the secrets of Manderley.
I'm not even going to try to go into an in depth review on this one. I think almost everything that can be said about this one, has already been said. I don't think I will have a new take on it or any breakthrough in understanding of the themes. What I can say, is I loved it. I'm not really sure why it took me so long to read it.
Daphne Du Maurier wrote this with an almost decadent lushness that I found overly appealing. I got lost in her descriptions of the grounds of Manderley. I wanted to walk those paths through the woods to the beach. I wanted to wander the halls and peer into rooms, long abandoned after Rebecca's death. I wanted to touch, taste, and smell everything our heroine was experiencing. If it had been possible, I would have lost myself and not been able to make it back. I would have holed up in a room somewhere and forgot the rest of the world. If there is only one aspect of a Gothic novel that I love, it's that decadence in the writing.
The other aspect of this book I found utterly fascinating were the female characters. I love the idea of our heroine never having a first name. It makes the recounting of the past that much more personal. It gives the impression that as a reader, we are already friends with her. It was as if we were together, sitting in a library much like the one in Manderley, and that she is telling her tale during a lazy afternoon. It allowed me as a reader to get even more involved with the action and the characters. It was in intoxicating feeling at times, one that I never wanted to let go of.
I guess that leads us to Mrs. Danvers. I'm not even sure where to being on my feelings towards her. Before I had actually read the book, the one thing I've heard from everyone is how evil and nasty this woman is. When I began the book, I was waiting to meet her, because I wanted to see how bad ass she really was. At first, I was a little disappointed. For a while, I thought she was a bitch, but not much more than that. She just seemed to have a massive chip on her shoulder, one that would never go away. Needless to say, I was feeling a little let down. I was wanting the devil incarnate and instead I was getting Gargamel. Thankfully, Mrs. Danvers redeemed herself. She finally became the manipulative hag I had been hearing so much about. What she tried to do to the new Mrs. Danvers will go down in literary history as one of the most evil examples of mental abuse. She was brilliant at it, and I love her for it. This book was worth reading, just for Mrs. Danvers.
I haven't watched the Hitchcock adaptation of this yet, but if everything I've heard about it is true, I can't wait. Either way, I think this will be a book I reread often. It will be one of those that I discover new things in every time, and I can't wait.