Book Title: Rebecca
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Original Publication Date: 1938
Edition Read: 1956 Doubleday & Co.
Total Pages: 357
Genre: Classic Gothic Mystery
Reason Read: Found this musty hardcover at the library sale and couldn’t resist
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
“He had the face of one who walks in his sleep, and for a wild moment the idea came to me that perhaps he was not normal, not altogether sane. There were people who had trances, I had surely heard of them, and they followed strange laws of which we could know nothing, they obeyed the tangled orders of their own subconscious minds. Perhaps he was one of them, and here we were within six feet of death.” – Chapter 4
One of the perks of working the local library sale is that you get first dibs on the books set out for sale. Kind of like when I worked at the shoe store back in high school. I would unpack the new shoe arrivals and set aside my size right away before anything even hit the shelf. This led to a very large and unnecessary shoe collection for a teenager. Working the library sale stacks could also lead to a mammoth book collection, but they frown upon hoarding over selling, so I only have time to snag a handful here and there. I always poke around the Classics table because, of course, I love them. I especially love all of the old hardcovers laid out. Without vibrant book jackets, they require more effort to look into. But I love picking them up and catching a whiff of the dusty and yellowed pages within. My imagination starts going haywire and next thing you know, I’m creating lives for the authors and characters and former owners of the books before I’ve even discovered what the real story is all about. Which is hard to do without actually reading the pages themselves when there isn’t a book jacket providing a plot summary.
Most of the time, the Classics you find at my library sale are quite obscure. So when I came across the familiar title of Rebecca, I couldn’t resist and snapped it up. Having only seen the movie, many moons ago, I was pleased to give the book a go and see how I found it. I didn’t remember much of the plot – more the sense of the story than anything else. From the very beginning I felt like someone was narrating the movie in my mind as I read along. I could see Hitchcock’s images playing in my head and was happy for it.
The book starts off very descriptive of the scenery which may have bogged me down a bit had I not already had all of the images flooding in from my movie memory. There is certainly a detailed scene set within the pages so that you can feel the ocean spray on your face, smell the fragrence of the spring flowers blooming throughout the grounds and feel the tingles on the back of your neck whenever a certain Mrs. Danvers appears around the corners of the Manderley estate.
A naive, plain young dreamer with an active imagination is rescued from her unpleasant job and life by an older, suave and rich gentleman trying to forget his wife’s tragic demise within the past year. This bout of puppy love leads to an unexpected and sudden marriage and then she is whisked away to the famous Manderley estate to be installed as the new Mrs. De Winter.
Unprepared, alone and timid our narrator arrives and tries to make sense of her new life and find her way, all the while living with the constant reminders and comparisons to the wife who’s place she has taken – the beloved Rebecca.
Trouble ensues with lots of twists and turns. There is much foreshadowing by du Maurier but she holds her biggest surprises closest to her sleeve. Just when I thought I had figured out the way it would go, she made me look silly. I enjoyed the story and although the narrator and her husband at times frustrated me with their personalities, I know that they needed to be the way they were for this wonderful tale of suspense to succeed. And that it did. Now I need to go rent the movie and see the images come alive again. Maybe my library has a copy!