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Remarks on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

March 28, 2011
Cover of "Rebecca"

Cover of Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a tale of insecurities in love and relationships.  The story is of a younger woman who meets, falls in love with, and marries  a wealthy older man who recently lost his wife.  As she moves into his estate in the English countryside, Manderley, she is bombarded with all things related to his former wife, Rebecca.  She begins to constantly fear this influential deceased woman and compare herself to her, which draws many insecurities and frustrations.

The novel is written in such a way as though you feel a friend is sitting next to you relating the accounts of her life.  It can be both a pleasant and heart-wrenching experience.  I found myself relating to the new Mrs. de Winter in many ways.  She is young, shy, and a very self-conscious individual.  She has to constantly live up to the expectations created for her by the woman who was before her.  She strives to be independent and strong and to earn the respect of those around her.  Du Maurier does an excellent job at conveying the emotions and issues the young woman goes through.

Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, is another well developed character worth mentioning.  Whenever she is in the room she creates an aura of fear and unease.  She is the ultimate antagonist in the story, but is generally kept passive.

“I heard the door behind me open, and it was Mrs. Danvers.  We stared at one another for a moment without speaking, and I could not be certain whether it was anger I read in her eyes or curiosity,  for her face became a mask directly she saw me.  Although she said nothing I felt guilty and ashamed, as though I had been caught trespassing, and I felt the tell-tale colour come up into my face.”

The descriptions in this book are excellent.  Du Maurier does a wonderful job at using facial expressions in her details to convey the emotions of the characters, since this is a first person narrative it is sometimes the only view into their emotions the reader has.

“His face was white, and his eyes strained and wretched with that dark lost look they had had when I first met him.”

“I could not speak, I went on staring at him.  His eyes were the only living things in the white mask of his face.”

The imagery of the English countryside and Manderley is also very elaborate.  Du Maurier writes in such a way that you can smell the flowers and hear the sea roaring.

“If I stood on the terrace and listened I could hear the murmur of the sea below me, low and sullen.  A dull persistent sound that never ceased.  And the gulls flew inland too, driven by the weather.  They hovered above the house in circles wheeling and crying, flapping their spread wings.  I began to understand why some people could not bear the clamour of the sea.  It has a mournful harping note sometimes, and the very persistence of it, that eternal roll and thunder and hiss, plays a jagged tune upon the nerves.”

Overall this was a great book full of detailed imagery and a character that you could easily relate to.  I would highly recommend anyone looking for a book about love with a little mystery to read this book.

As a random treat here is the trailer to the 1940 Hitchcock film version of this book:

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2011 1:12 pm

    I love Daphne du Maurier and Rebecca is one of my all-time favourite books. Like you, I find the second Mrs de Winter easy to relate to and Mrs Danvers is a great character too. I’m glad you enjoyed this book!

    • March 29, 2011 1:48 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. The second Mrs. de Winter was such a relatable character, she’s a very humble character and her imperfections and nervous behaviors make her feel more human to me. I really did enjoy this book!!

  2. March 29, 2011 2:06 pm

    Love the way you write about this book, one of my all-time favourites. I’ve written a novel due out later this year, which begins as a modern version of Rebecca, set in the South of France (where the second Mrs de Winter meets Max, and where we assume she writes the book after the action has place). It is a kind of homage to Rebecca, but it’s also a story about the bookish imagination, and the ghosts of the past.

    If that appeals to you, do come over to my blog and have a look.

    • March 29, 2011 2:08 pm

      Thank you! Your novel sounds very interesting, I will definitely come over to your blog and take a look.

  3. March 29, 2011 4:25 pm

    I liked Rebecca a lot and found myself drawn into the atmosphere of the book-I have also read My Cousin Rachael which I thought for sure worth reading and Jamaica Inn, which is decent but not near as good as Rebecca-I enjoyed the post a lot-you can see all the movie on youtube

    • March 29, 2011 4:45 pm

      The atmosphere of the book really is great. I’ll have to look into My Cousin Rachael. I found out you could watch the whole movie when I was looking for the trailer, I’m going to have to sit down and watch it this weekend. It has luckily been so long since I’ve seen the movie that it didn’t ruin reading the book for me.

  4. March 29, 2011 6:08 pm

    It’s been so long since I’ve read Rebecca. I really must give it a re-read.

  5. March 30, 2011 8:22 am

    I read this when I was in HS – can’t really remember much about it anymore but it made me a fan of Daphne du Maurier. My fave book of hers was ‘Nine Coaches Waiting’.

    • March 30, 2011 9:08 am

      I’ve never heard of Nine Coaches Waiting, I will have to look into it and add it to my every growing and expanding TBR list.

  6. April 13, 2011 5:08 am

    Good review – especially on the character of the narrator. I reviewed this recently on my blog and enjoyed it a lot.

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