Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Yay! I finally finished this book, just in time for bookclub! I think it took me a month. Why, you may ask? Well, a few reasons.
1. I am a lazy reader these days. Most current reads do not include so much description, long chapters and sentences or such weak (as I saw her, especially in the beginning!) heroines. Most books I have been reading can be finished in a day or two.
2. I did not like the young, naïve, shy narrator, the new Mrs. De Winter throughout most of the book. In fact, for a long time I thought her an unreliable narrator, which really was upsetting to me for some reason.
3. Because of all that, I read a bunch of books while I was reading Rebecca.
So, I picked this book for my bookclub to read. I wasn’t the only one who struggled a little bit, for the reasons above, except for #3. One of the ladies said that she thought the book’s time had come and gone. I don’t know about all that, but it was tough to see such a shy, meek character who internalizes everything, both what she sees and what she expects everyone is saying about her. It is all about gossip and the thought of gossip that motivates our narrator. Du Maurier does a great job of that, but I kept remembering that “assume makes an ass out of you and me” and I wondered how wrong she would end up being as the reader is given hints from the actual dialogue that our nameless narrator may have things a bit wrong.
Also, I read that Maxim a romantic tragic figure and many readers fall in love with him. I guess he is that, but he certainly didn’t make me swoon, maybe I am too old and jaded. I read a lot of reviews where this book was read and he is loved by young teens. I had a hard time for the same reason with Tess of the D’Ubervilles and really wished I had read it when I was young and less realistic! Even Maxim’s proposal was jerky. Ok, Darcy had the worst proposal ever, but Maxim’s was pretty much take it or leave it and blah to boot. It didn’t evoke any emotion really. He remains so emotionally withdrawn it kills me. But it must have been a product of the times. Everything was understated. It is just a weird juxtaposition from Manderley and its riotous undergrowth, profusion of colorful flowers, mists and echoing halls. But perhaps that is a comparison of Rebecca to Maxim. He also ends up assuming things which come out near the end of the book and has kept the two main characters apart, as much as the memories of his first wife, Rebecca.
There is a twist, things come to light, the story is satisfying and there is a bit of a mystery. I am really glad I read it. I wish I had read it along with an English class so that I could linger longer over the lovely descriptions, revel in the foreshadowing and discuss the times and customs to better understand the actions of the characters. But alas, it was not to be the case. I would recommend this book for anyone looking to read the classics, or who enjoy gothic reads. Also, I hear it was amazing for its time because of the tension and suspense. I guess you could look at it as an early mystery/procedural with a little courtroom drama thrown in.
But, would your bookclub enjoy this book and have a good discussion? Yes – it would if your members are good about reading it! I downloaded questions from the internet and we really had a great time throwing out our thoughts and feelings. (The wine may have helped a little bit.) But we all had a lot to say, the story, characters, plot and word choice lend to an excellent book discussion. Additionally, Hitchcock made a movie adaptation and we enjoyed seeing his vision of the characters vs our own. 3.5 stars.