“The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.”
What can I say about this book that has not been said before? For years, I had put off reading it – thinking, entirely misguidedly, that because it was so well reviewed as a ‘classic’ it may be stuffy and overly wordy (I love classics – adore them – but every now and then you pick one up, like Ulysses, which is highly commended and highly awful). I was completely and utterly wrong to think this.
Rebecca is written by the queen of suspense and tension. Everything about the plot, the setting, the characters, is there to build the feeling that there’s something not quite right. Is it the handsome, brooding husband living almost in isolation who is the problem? What did happen to his first wife? Is it the grieving, abrupt housemaid who is causing issues? Or the first wife’s cousin, turning up unannounced?
The main reason I was completely hooked was du Maurier’s narrator, the second Mrs de Winter, was entirely believable. She was socially awkward, not described as beautiful, a shy and nervous girl approaching adulthood. Rather than an overtly confident and sensual female character (as we often get in books written by men), we have one everyone could relate to. Everyone has issues with self confidence sometimes, and you certainly would if you found yourself as the new mistress of a country house as a young girl and with no idea what to do or how to carry yourself. It was almost unnerving, how well du Maurier wrote the anxiety which came with this new position.
All I can say is: read it now. I finished, went back to the beginning and started again. It is that good.
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