The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.
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Rebecca has been on my tbr for years and years. I think I may have even picked it up once or twice but put it quickly aside in favour of something else. Which is good, because as I suspected, you definitely need to be in the right mood for this book.
Like everyone else in the world, I love the opening line and the mood the opening scene sets to let you know that this is not a typical romance that you are reading. The more classic writing style, with it’s run on sentences of rich description, is hit and miss for me but I really enjoyed Du Maurier’s prose, as well. I thought having an unnamed main character was interesting, too; I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I never knew the main character’s name.
The first section of the novel was fun. Just as you’re getting to know our heroine, she’s getting to know herself through the eyes of Mr De Winter. I was fascinated by him, to be honest, though that’s not to say I liked him. (Are any of the characters in Rebecca supposed to be likeable?) His whole manner – so brusque and self assured but mysterious and with a mood that can change in an instant. So the story starts out in the sun of Monte Carlo, and even before the return to Mandalay, the atmosphere is growing more dark. The fog closes in and our heroine becomes more and more obsessed with the ever present ghost of Rebecca. It’s good. It’s as dark and temperamental as Mr De Winter’s inner torment, or so I’m assuming.
The whole thing was very well paced, the term ‘page turner’ comes to mind, and the twist is a good one – if not totally unguessable. I’m not sure what I think of the ending, and I couldn’t stop myself drawing Jane Eyre parallels the whole way through, but I highly recommend Rebecca if you haven’t read it.