by Daphne du Maurier
I love this book. This was a reread for me and I have to say, I enjoyed it even more the second time around. The author has an incredible gift for description and from that infamous opening line you are completely sucked into the world of Manderley and the de Winters.
Manderley is the beautiful home of widower Maxim de Winter. The entire story is told from the point-of-view of his new young wife. It's eerie and wonderfully scary, but not in an obvious way. The young woman is completely intimidated by the memory of her predecessor, Rebecca de Winter. The former lady of the house died, but her tastes and influence is etched on every inch of Manderley.
I can’t overstate the importance of tone in this novel. There’s a growing sense of claustrophobia and fear as the new Mrs. De Winter slowly peels back the layers of Manderly’s secrets. The young bride completely out of her element at the huge country manor. Mrs. Danvers is the servant who runs the house but she remains loyal to the deceased Rebecca. Our narrator can’t help but compare all of her actions and decisions to the idealistic Rebecca, shrouded in perfection now that she’s died.
One of the most notable details of this novels is that the whole thing is told from one woman’s point-of-view, but throughout the whole novel we never learn her name. She's occasionally referred to as the new Mrs. de Winter, but we never learn her first name. The focus is always on her relationship with Maxim,
Rebecca’s memory, Mrs. Danvers, etc, we know very little of her as a person. It’s a fascinating lens through which to see the story unfold.
BOTTOM LINE: Read it! It's considered a gothic mystery and if that's something you enjoy at all, then this one should be right up your alley.
Side note: My favorite Hitchcock movie is based on this novel and stars Laurence Olivier as Maxim. It's so good!