Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Rebecca opens with the narrator describing this dream and the timorous life she is currently living. Then the narrative jumps to the past, to explain what happened.
The narrator, the second Mrs. de Winter, is brought to her new husband’s English estate, Manderley. Her reign as mistress of the grand house, though, is tempered by the palpable presence of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter. The second Mrs. de Winter (whose first name is never revealed) is young and inexperienced and not well-bred. She struggles to run the household and imagines herself inferior in every way to Rebecca. These imaginations are aided by the efforts of Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who is severely devoted to Rebecca.
The first chapter (well, really, line) drew me in, and I was hooked. The story unfolds slowly, but in an eerie, tension-building way. Some of the scenes are so memorably written that I had dreams about them. Daphne du Maurier is obviously a talented writer and managed to sneak in the twist, before I could even suspect that there was one. Also, who doesn’t like a good book set on an English estate? Though I did have some misgivings about some of the characters’ actions (or inactions, as the case may be) and about the abrupt ending, I really loved this book and will read it again someday.
Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier [rating:5]