Monday, October 12, 2015

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!


Carol said...

I loved this book too. It was very unusual with lots of suspense all the way through. I'm surprised that it isn't as well known as it should be.

Debbie said...

I read this book many years ago-- a classic for sure. I'm not sure I've seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie tho. I'll have to check that out.

thecuecard said...

I havent read this classic yet but would like to. Sounds mysterious. and a good read.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Carol - I was surprised more people didn't know it too!

Debbie - It's such a good movie!

thecuecard - It's wonderful. I hope you enjoy it!

Brona said...

Oh a Hitchcock movie - sounds great. You've also highlighted the pleasure, the wonder & the importance of a reread :-)

Mari said...

I read this book for the first time last year with my book group. We all really enjoyed it. Such a great gothic thriller. Mrs. Danvers was as creepy as I expected her to be and the storytelling was superb.

Anonymous said...

I should reread this. I had never heard of it when it came up for a book club selection and the girl who nom'd it said she read it EVERY fall! I recall wondering WHY?!?!? One, because (way pre-blogging) I had never considered rereading a book and 2) how any book would be reread so often? Anyway, I was clueless let's just say. And then, I never picked up on the fact that the narrator's name was never mentioned (oops) and I was just so pissed off at Maxim for being a lousy clueless husband. Too funny.

Jay said...

This is a book I frequently recommend to friends who when they're in a "reading slump" come to me for suggestions on something to read. So far I've had no complaints... :-)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brona - I've only understood the importance of rereading in the last few years. This year more than ever, with the craziness and tiredness of being pregnant, I've really loved it.

Mari - The reason I reread it is because my book club selected it! It was so much fun to discuss it as a group.

bkclubcare - You know, the first time I read it I don't think Maxim even really bothered me. This time around I was pretty frustrated with him. Think of all the misunderstanding and pain he could have avoided with a little communication!

Jay - This would be a perfect slump buster book!

Jillian said...

Such a beautiful, atmospheric book! Perfect for a winter read.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jillian - I love how certain books just work better when you read the during certain seasons!