Sunday, June 8, 2014

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, Or, An Old Favorite

After reading this post and thinking about my own experiences with Daphne DuMaurier, I thought I would write a post about Rebecca.  I've had some duds with DuMaurier (remember this post?), but Rebecca is one book that I really enjoyed.  I first came across the book when I was pretty young-10 or 11- and my mother gave it a glowing recommendation.  I eagerly started the book and was instantly drawn into that world so different from my own.  It's the story of a young, nameless woman who lives her life a nobody.  Then, she marries a rich, haunted man and goes to live at his romantic, English estate, only to discover that he has a dead first wife whom everybody still reveres. Rebecca is the title of the story and the name of Mr. Dewinter's first wife.  Her presence surrounds Manderley and haunts all of the people that live there.  For an 11-year-old, this was the epitome of romantic adventure and I was thrilled by the grown-upish-ness of the story.  I think I read it in one or two sittings.

I still love the story, but I have no idea why.  Sure, it's thrilling and an exciting (though extremely improbable) romance.  However, it's not exactly the sort of thing I normally read.  I like cozy, non-tortured, traditionally happy endings.  Rebecca has none of these, yet it continues to stay with me as one of the best books I've ever read.  Why?  Well, after some musings, I think there are several things that make this book so exceptional that even I would love it.

First of all, the mystery is so convincing.  It just pulls and pulls at you until you find yourself having to know what happens, no matter what.
From the Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Second, the characters are quite well, and creatively, drawn.  Well, except for the nameless main character, who is so obviously missing from the action.  But that's on purpose, so that doesn't really count.  But other than her, the characters are all interesting, exciting, and quite 3-dimensional.  The most exciting of the characters is the evil Mrs. Danvers, who ends it all (that's all I'm saying and if you've read the book, you know what I mean).

There is just enough redemption to redeem the story (if that makes any sense).  There is an end to the bad characters and the good characters, more or less, end up happily.
The second Mrs. Dewinter and the creepy housekeeper,
Mrs. Danvers.

And finally, Rebecca is such a character unto herself, even though she is quite dead.  This makes the story so irresistible.

So, those are my thoughts about the book Rebecca.  Tonight, I'm considering watching the Alfred Hitchcock movie....

No comments:

Post a Comment