I finished reading Rebecca on Saturday evening. What a great, fun book it is too! I don’t understand why I never read it before. I finally get Jasper Fforde’s Mrs. Danvers clone references and why they are the relentless fighters on the side of the bad guys in the Thursday Next books.
What I loved about the book was that it was so lush. And I like how its lushness, particularly in language, played such a nice counterpoint to the subtly sinister. This has got to be one of the best books ever where the character that has the biggest influence over events never even makes an appearance.
I loved all the characters, the rich, handsome and tormented Maxim de Winter who lost his beloved first wife, Rebecca, to a drowning accident. The new Mrs. de Winter, so young and inexperienced and not at all from the world of the wealthy. She knew enough to feel ashamed of her background and lack of poise and what others might think of her. She worried over what fork to use at dinner. And the most exquisite detail of all, she frequently bit her fingernails when she was nervous. Mr. Crawley, the estate manager; what a kind man. The servants, Frith and Robert. And of course, Mrs. Danvers.
It starts off as a love conquers all, rich man, poor girl story but quickly slides into something else as Mrs. de Winter finds Rebecca’s shadow to be big and dark and nearly impossible to get out from under. Maxim doesn’t help. He leaves her to find her own way. We know he loves her but suspect it might be only because she is so different from Rebecca and has an innocence that she lacked. But Mrs. de Winter also has a vivd and curious imagination and Maxim’s reticence to talk about his past eventually brings things to an exciting climax in which I didn’t want to put the book down.
My edition has an interesting author’s note at the end, written forty years after the original publication of the book. I thought not ever knowing the name of the second Mrs. de Winter who is also the narrator of the story was a stroke of genius. But it turns out, according to du Maurier, the reason Mrs. de Winter never had a name was because:
I could not think of one, and it became a challenge in technique, the easier because I was writing in the first person.
For what it’s worth, I am glad she couldn’t think of a name.
My Bookman read the book a long time ago, so long he can no longer really remember it. I want to watch the movie now. I had no idea Hitchcock did it and that makes me want to see it even more. But my Bookman wants to read the book first and I don’t think I’ll have much of a break from school until the quarter is over. So I guess I have something really fun to look forward to at the end of August.