It’s review time – Rebecca
For those of you who have not read Daphne of Du Maurier’s Rebecca, it is the tale of a nameless protagonist who marries the recently widowed Maxim de Winter, a wealthy gentleman who owns the most luxurious estate named Manderley. The story follows the two newlyweds during the first few months of their marriage and depicts the struggles that Mrs De Winter faces by living in the shadow of Mr De Winter’s late wife Rebecca.
This was a tough one for me to review. It really took a lot of effort on my behalf to stay with this book and complete it. I’ve stated in a previous post that a very close friend of mine expressed her love of the story and demanded that I read it. Although I was reluctant at first it didn’t take me long to cave in. This book was completely out of my comfort zone; it is not something I would have chosen to read myself. I absolutely love my classic literature but when it gets to reading anything published between 1900-1980 somehow I really seem to struggle. (I don’t know why).
I started this book thinking it was going to be a gritty romantic novel full of suspense and gothic goodness. However, I found myself extremely disappointed. There is a lack of romance, not nearly enough suspense and a disappointing ending. I know some of you may be thinking ‘she’s clearly not understood the overall message of the book’ or ‘she has lost her mind’ but let me explain.
It became clear very early in the novel that romance is not the most significant theme within this story but the little romance there is is nonsense. We have a middle aged man who is quite clearly going through a midlife crisis and a young woman who is coming of age and seems to be obsessed with the first person that gives her attention. It may have been wrong for me to assume there was going to be an all consuming love between Mr and Mrs de Winter, I just expected there to be a more passionate relationship between the two of them.
Moreover, the way Maxim talks down at Mrs De Winter, as if she were a child swiftly grew irritating. It really doesn’t demonstrate a loving marriage in my eyes, just a relationship of convenience and it’s was not enjoyable to witness.
I also have an issue with Mrs de Winter’s attitude after Maxim reveals he murdered Rebecca. She is not the slightest bit concerned that her husband is a murderer and I don’t get it. If I had found out my husband had committed that crime, I would be running for the hills screaming. I’d definitely not be fawning after him even more because he’s admitted he never actually loved his late wife.
I thought there was very little suspense during the novel and towards the end I found myself figuring out what was going to happen. One particular occurrence that was surely supposed to bring suspense was when the housekeeper of Manderley, Mrs Danvers tries to persuade Mrs de Winter to jump out of the window. Sadly, this was yet another occurrence in the novel that I found utterly bizarre. It’s one thing to create an eerie character who depicts the perfect gothic traits, but I hated that Du Maurier did this. It was definitely one step too far.
The ending! So my friend has no problems with the end of this novel but I found it really disappointing. Yes, I know it is symbolic and another ending could have changed the complete meaning of the story. I just hate it! It would have made perfect sense to me to end the novel before they arrived back to the ruined Manderley or if they were not to return there at all. To burn it down, it’s too Jane Eyre for my liking.
I can’t lie and say that I despised all aspects of the book, there were parts of the story that I enjoyed. Although Du Maurier’s writing style is unique and mesmerising it was the hardest thing for me to overcome. I did wish on several occasions that she would get straight to the point. It took quite a few chapters for me to fully commit to the tale and get used to this writing technique.
I am glad I read this book and in the future I do want to try and read more of Du Maurier’s novels but for now I’m going to find me something new to read!
‘If only there could be an invention’ I said impulsively, ‘that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded. And it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.’
I give this novel 3.5 stars.