Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
At the beginning of this year I set myself the task of reading 20 books as part of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I'm a very slow reader and according to Goodreads I'm 6 books behind (oops) but I have finally gotten out of my 'readers block' (that's definitely a thing) and fallen in love with reading again! I owe this to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.
Rebecca tells the story of a young un-named heroine who visits Monte Carlo alongside a wealthy American lady as a companion. While there she meets a rich, handsome, troubled older man named Maxim de Winter who is well known as the master of a large Cornish estate named Manderley and recently lost his beautiful wife, Rebecca, who was adored by all who knew her when she drowned at sea.
It's not long before the heroine and Maxim fall in love and enter into a whirlwind marriage, but on returning to Manderley as husband and wife it's very clear that Rebecca still has a strong presence at Manderley, even from beyond the grave.
Constantly being compared to the late Mrs de Winter and facing Mrs Danvers' (Rebecca's old handmaiden) cruelty and resentment towards her, the new Mrs de Winter struggles to adapt to her new, privileged way of life as Lady of Manderley and starts to realise that she may never shake Rebecca's precence and she doesn't know much about her increasingly distant, mysterious husband at all.
Without giving too much away, I adored this book from start to finish. It had everything I love in a book. Romance, mystery, death and beautiful, gloomy, Cornish settings. It ticked all of my boxes.
Originally dismissed as a romance story, Rebecca has become one of the most influential novels of all time and a Gothic classic, and rightfully so. Daphne du Maurier's most famous novel is thick with beautiful, dark and gloomy imagery literally from the very first page to the last. Her descriptions of Manderley almost had me feeling like I could smell the azaleas.
The particular reason I consider this my second favourite book (after Anne Rice's Interview with The Vampire) is that of the many books I've read, the heroine was someone I really related to. In fact I feel that she's a character many young women could relate to. She's constantly being compared to Rebecca and always fears that she'll never measure up. Her anxiety is laid bare for readers to see as she spills her every thought out onto the page.
Rebecca has been on my to-read list for many years and I was given a Waterstones gift card for my birthday, so when deciding which book to spend it on I couldn't resist the beautiful cover pictured above. I am so glad I've read it but so disappointed I didn't have it in my life earlier.
Daphne du Maurier writes beautifully, there is almost a poetic quality to it and I loved this book so much I've ordered another 3 of her novels which I'll be sure to share my thoughts on too. In fact My Cousin Rachel arrived yesterday which I'll be starting as soon as I've finished this post.
If you're a fan of dark, British settings, relatable heroines, mystery and romance, Rebecca should be at the top of your reading list!
Have you read Rebecca or any other Daphne du Maurier books?