Rebecca is Daphne du Maurier’s most famous novel, and with good reason.
The book’s narrator meets Max de Winter at Monte Carlo. He is twice her age, widowed, wealthy. She’s kind, unaffected, middle class. They marry on the spur of the moment and, after a brief honeymoon, Max brings her home to Manderley.
The young woman isn’t prepared for a husband with an estate to run, or for the social hostess role she’s supposed to assume, a role Rebecca (the first Mrs. de Winter) played superbly.
Fortunately, the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is more than capable. She’s also more than a little sinister.
I won’t spoil the story for you. Let me just say the novel takes the standard features of the Gothic mystery romance and puts them in twentieth century garb with spine-tingling success.
The story that untangles is a sordid, nasty business, but told with a reticence appropriate to the innocence of the narrator.
Du Maurier refers to her heroine by name just once in the book. That technique makes readers identify closely with the storyteller.
After all, her story could just as easily have happened to them.
This isn’t great literature, but it’s great story-telling.
Give it a five-goosebump rating.Rebecca By Daphne du Maurier Doubleday, Doran, 1938 1938 #4 457 pages My grade: B+