Monday, May 10, 2010

Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," narrates the nameless girl whom Maxim De Winter marries, who becomes apparently, the rather colorless successor to his dead wife Rebecca and becomes the new mistress of the lovely Manderley. And so we are instantly swept, up the twisting gravel drive, through the eerily slim beech trees, past the rhododendrons, till we come in front of the once handsome gray house that was, is Manderley. As Du Maurier sets the scene for a gripping novel, you find yourself already rather intensely involved in the lives of Maxim De Winter and his wife in that small nameless hotel in Monte Carlo. There is this sense of hard fought for peace, a tiredness of the mind that welcomes the mundanity that life is now. There is a certain fragility about the couple and when you begin to wonder why, the narrator sweeps you along for the breathtaking ride that is Rebecca.

Our girl, the protagonist lives the drab life of a ladies companion to a tiresome, tedious widow, Mrs.Edythe Van Hopper in glamorous Monte Carlo. The city itself has nothing to offer to this twenty one year old who knows nothing about the high life. One day, while at lunch, they see Maxim De Winter of Manderley dining alone at a nearby table and Mrs. Van Hopper with her love for high society resolves to make an acquaintance with the illustrious Manderely and its enigmatic Master. Maxim treats Mrs. Van Hopper with the contempt that she deserves but our girl, her companion is quite another matter. A unlikely friendship develops between the two that turns into an all consuming adoration on the girl's part and a "sort-of-love" on Maxim's part. After a whirlwind affair, they get married. Maxim's life is complicated, his first wife Rebecca dies the previous year and it is rumoured that he can't get over her death. His naive, young, new wife tries to convince herself that Maxim really does love her.

When the couple return to Manderley, the bride is over-awed with the splendor in front of her and completely over shadowed by the present, yet never present Rebecca De Winter. Manderley is filled with curious servants, the county is teeming with people who are itching to have a look at the new Mrs. De Winter, the scheming housekeeper Mrs. Danvers absolutely hates her, Maxim himself has become ever increasingly absent with her and she is overwhelmed, trapped in a marriage that seems to be a mistake, unloved by her husband and looked upon as a curio by everyone else. Can she ever overcome the increasingly weighty presence of Rebecca in her life and win Maxim's heart? More importantly, what about the secrets Maxim and Manderley seem to be hiding? Can she ever win her husband's confidence enough for him to open his heart to her?

Rebecca is a tale of first love, adoration, despair and treachery set in stunning Cornwall. The narration was so racy and gripping that it proved to be the perfect antidote to this nasty bout of flu I have been having. Rebecca is my favourite of Du Maurier's novels and so it will be with anyone who reads it. I would recommend this book to everyone: it is easy to lose yourself in the wilderness that is Manderley, so do. You will enjoy it.

P.S - There is a wonderful write up on Rebecca at Hannah Stoneham's book blog...you can catch it here

13 comments:

Whitney said...

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," What a fantastic, eerie way to begin this gothic novel. Rebecca is slowly inching its way up my tbr and look forward to getting to it. Thanks for another great review!

I have an award for you too :)

Shweta said...

As much as I love the narration in this book and hate Mrs Danvers , this never falls in my all time fav category.Main reason being I never felt emotional about the romance angle provided by the author. Maxim was too out of it for my taste :) Loved the review btw ..Very beautifully put..

Kals said...

Every time I read a review of Rebecca, I feel I'm missing out on something great! It's been on my TBR for ages and I hope to get to it soon! Great review as usual :)

I have an award for you too :D

Birdy said...

I must say Rebecca is also one of my favorite novels and your review has truly done justice! :)

PM said...

Nice review. This book is on my wish list for this year :)

nishitak said...

This is the only book of DuMaurier's that I have read, which is surprising...this one is so great!

I also love your review of the book. You have captured it's spirit so well without giving away too much of the tale.

bookswithcoffee said...

I love this book and like Nish this is the only book pf DuMaurier, I have read..once during a throwback (where I had to highlight a book read long time ago) I highlighted this book and copied the same paragraph that you did, this paragralh is so engrossing..but I never reviewed this book, wonderful review.

Vaishnavi said...

@Whitney - I am glad you liked the review! It IS a fantastic beginning isn't it?? Hope you have lots of fun reading Rebecca :)

@Shweta - Thanks, I am happy you liked the review. I rather love Maxim's character actually. There is something so.....formidable about the man..or is it forbidding? I never can figure out which :)

@Kals - Thanks a bunch and get to it soon! You will enjoy it a lot :)

@Birdy - Thank you very much :)

@PM - Hope you have fun reading it :)

@Nishita - I am glad you liked it! I haven't read all of Du Maurier's books but I loved Rule Britannia too...you should try that one..

@bookswithcoffee - Thanks and welcome here! Yeah the opening lines is one of the most arresting I have read anywhere. Glad to see you here...do come again!

Pavi said...

Hey sounds like quite a gripping novel:) I'm amazed how the entire story carried on with the "nameless girl" ??:-p
Still,sounds more like a reality potrayed rather than complete fiction!!!
Great review..You've looked into the intricate details pretty well:)

bikerguy said...

well, going by some comments i am not sure if the book might be on everyone's fav list, but after reading your review, i wanted to get a hold of it...so that proves your writing is impressive...nice work :)
you got a lot of awards, sorry i have only one award to give and since i am not a blogger, i can only announce it..
"Best Friends Award" :) :)

Vaishnavi said...

@Pavi - Thanks a lot, I am huge fan of Daphne Du Maurier...I'll buy a copy soon (big surprise) ad you can borrow mine if you like!

@avi - Thanks so much :) You should try this one definitely..

Avid Reader said...

This is one of my all-time favorites. It's the perfect gothic story.

Vaishnavi said...

Avid Reader - Hi and welcome here! I agree with you, I just LOVE Rebecca :)