by Daphne du Maurier
Summary: “Rebecca is a work of immense intelligence and wit, elegantly written, thematically solid, suspenseful..” —Washington Post
“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.
Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my library
I decided to read Rebecca to complete the Classic Romance category of my 2015 Reading Challenge because it contained the word gothic in the synopsis and seemed much more up my alley than the works of Jane Austen (which I swear I’ll attempt to read eventually).
As the book began, I wasn’t sure that I liked it very much. Maybe I read too much horror, but I guess I assumed that Rebecca’s shadow would be large and looming due to the nature of the novel and not because the main character was such a shy doormat. No matter how frequently people told her she was the lady of the house, she kept acting like a maid and letting the idea of Rebecca suffocate her. It was her own fault. I wasn’t sure where it was going, but I was afraid that she would somehow sabotage herself. I didn’t see any inkling that Mrs. Danvers was particularly rude until the night of the ball, when I realized that perhaps it wasn’t ALL the main character’s fault.
Fortunately, the book had a bit of a twist about halfway through and communication started to improve between the main character and her husband regarding Rebecca. It all started to make sense at that point and it got to be that dark gothic novel I had been hoping for. I enjoyed the last half of the book quite a bit!
I can see why Rebecca is a well loved classic. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to others, especially if classic romance is a category that’s also hard for you. There is nothing like a little madness and darkness to make a novel worth reading, right? The book wasn’t difficult to get through at all and I felt that the main character and Maxim eventually came together and relied on each other, even if it felt like they were married strangers in the beginning. I loved the plot and the way it all ended.