“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
- Buy the book here
- Page Count: 416
- Genre: Romantic Suspense, Fiction
Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is a masterclass in riveting imagery, suspenseful scenes, and fascinatingly unreliable characters. I wasn’t sure what to expect when reading Rebecca. This novel was a required read for one of my English Literature courses this semester, and I’d admittedly never heard of it before. I had no idea what awaited in these pages, and even if I did, I’m not sure that it would’ve prepared me for the experience of reading this text. I’m happy to add another book to my list of five star reads.
The novel follows an unnamed young woman who is working as a lady’s companion in Monte Carlo when she meets the widowed English Aristocrat Maxim de Winter. A romance soon forms between the pair, and with the older, wealthier, and more mature Maxim proposes to the naive and lovestruck narrator. Maxim takes the narrator back to live at his gorgeous manor home Manderly.
Manderly has been in the de Winter family for a thousand years. While generations of people have walked these halls, the narrator finds herself most haunted by Maxim’s previous wife, Rebecca, who died the previous year. Everyone at Manderly, most notably the leering Mrs. Danvers, cannot help but notice all of the ways the narrator differs from the late Rebecca. Manderly keeps years of history behind its doors, but beneath the grandeur, unimaginable secrets lie waiting.
Rebecca is a thrilling combination of the romance and suspense genres. The book features one of the most unreliable narrators that I’ve ever encountered in fiction. She is so absorbed with the staff of the house comparing her to Rebecca that it is often unclear if moments are real or imagined. As readers, we’re invited to question her perception and think twice about her descriptions of action and body language. I felt like I was playing detective to see if I trusted the narrator’s perceptions. There’s an ample amount of content and symbolism that intertwines with the real life of the author, too, but for the sake of being spoiler-free, I’m going to leave that out.
There’s not fantastical elements in this book, but du Marier edges closer and closer to a ghost story with every scene. The late Rebecca’s presence haunts every passage and plays a direct influence on the current events on the story. While Rebecca is gone in physical form, her spirit lives in this text.
This is a book to read more than once. After finishing Rebecca, I realized that so many scenes were packed with symbolism that doesn’t become clear until readers have finished the book. It’s not often that I recommend someone read a book twice, but Rebecca is just that captivating. I know I will pick it up again when I get the chance.
Expect a slow, meandering pace when reading Rebecca. The story takes care to set up rich history, details, and imagery before getting to the twists. But it is well worth the wait! From the iconic first line to the final twist, Rebecca is an unforgettable read packed with imagery and surprise.