Tuesday 27 October 2009

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Pages - 397

First published in 1938

Challenges - RIP challenge and 100 books challenge.

I really should have written a review for this book before I went on holiday, as my brain seems a bit hazy about it nearly two weeks after. That will teach me to be more prepared.

Rebecca follows the story of a very young bride married to Maxim De Winter. The bride's name is never revealed throughout the book and this only adds to her transparent existence beside the first Mrs De Winter, Rebecca who is dead, but very much alive in the house and the memories of the staff in Manderley. This book follows the bride's struggle to take Rebecca's place. The more she tries to show her love for Maxim, the more the ghost of Rebecca haunts her and lays obstacles in her way.

I will be honest and say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I did Jamaica Inn. I thought it was good, but there were two points within the book which really niggled me.

Firstly, I found the relationship between the young inexperienced bride and the much older Maxim De Winter, extremely creepy. He was old enough to be her father and throughout the beginning of the book, he often treated her like a child. I don't enjoy reading about relationships like that. Marriage is about equal partnerships and this marriage irritated the hell out of me.

Secondly, I found the bride to be such a weak character for most of the book, that I could not warm to her. I felt she needed to toughen up in order to stand up to the ogre, Mrs Danvers. The most enigmatic character in the book was dead and I found that annoying.

These two areas spoilt this book for me. I know a lot of people say that this is Daphne Du Maurier's best book, but I really preferred Jamaica Inn.

Don't get me wrong, I thought this was well written book and it gave off a real sinister air, which I liked. Daphne Du Maurier was exceptional at writing Gothic story lines. There is all the terror and suspense expected in this type of novel, as well as the old, hauntingly sinister building. The atmosphere of the book was fantastic and believable and I did find myself jumping at the slightest noise surrounding me.

The characters in the book appear to have certain characteristics, yet by the end of the book you realise you have misinterpreted them and they are not what they seem. Rebecca's real character was quite surprising by the end and you can see why her demise would happen. Rebecca was very good at blinding and dazzling the people around her, then playing them as pawns in a game of chess. Even the evil, Mrs Danvers, who doted on Rebecca, was just another person to play with. Rebecca reminded me of a cat playing with its prey before it killed it.

If you love Gothic books, then do read this. I don't want to put you off with my particular points of views. I liked it, I just didn't love it and for me Jamaica Inn will stay in the number one slot for the best Daphne Du Maurier book that I have read so far. Bearing in mind, these are the only two I have read, I might not be the best judge of Daphne Du Maurier books.

Now I know a lot of you will probably moan at me, as this is one of your favourites. I don't mind you trying to change my opinion. So go ahead and let me know what you thought of it.

Other reviews of this book

Chaotic Compendium

Things That Mean A Lot


  1. You know I love it! You should watch the film, if you haven't already. It's v. good. I must re-read this - although I've seen the film lots of times, I haven't read the book since I was a teenager.

  2. I think that the uncomfortable feeling their relationship gives you adds to the sinister feel of the book - well with me anyway ;) This is the only Du Maurier book I've read so will definitely have to read Jamaica Inn if you reckon it's even better. Great review Viv :)

  3. p.s Just seen Annes comment - defo watch the film.

  4. I read this book years ago and loved it, but when I tried to re-read it not too long ago I became so impatient with the main character I quit reading. I kept wanting her to stand up for herself! I agree that Jamaica Inn is better but I think my favorite du Maurier is Frenchman's Creek which actually isn't a gothic at all.

  5. I loved Rebecca, and own Jamacia Inn (must read that now). Glad to hear you though JI was fabulous.

  6. I loved this one but then again I haven't read Jamaica Inn. I too kind of wanted to slap around the new Mrs De Winter. In fact, it's even worse in the movie. But I guess that's what made it fun for me because it was creepy and frustrating. If she was a strong character, it wouldn't have made for such a good story.

  7. I just finished this one last week and Trish and I will be doing a buddy review of it tomorrow. I really, really loved it. Those points that irritated you didn't bother me, and i actually really liked the narrator. I could recognize my fears and insecurities from that age in her. I kept wanting ot yell at her to stand up to Mrs. Danvers, but I understood why she didn't and that endeared her to me more. I have Jamaica Inn on my shelf and I've actually heard most people say they didn't like it as much, but I'm glad to hear how much you love it. It encourages me.

  8. Ok, another Rebecca fan here. I love the gothic atmosphere and the creepy feel to it. I haven't read Jamaica Inn in so long I can't remember what it is about. May have to re visit that one. Frenchman's Creek is very good too without the gothic creepy feel. You might try that one Vivienne.

  9. I've avoided Daphne du Maurier's work for years because I had it in my mind it was gushy romance. Now that I know better, I need to try one her books. I'll keep in mind that Jamaica Inn is better. Great review.

  10. Perhaps I should just read Jamaica first then :D
    nice honest review

  11. I need to read this author, i've heard good things. I know what you mean, if a main character is weak, it kind of spoils the book. But this still sounds like a great read.
    Great review!

  12. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as you were hoping to, Vivienne. I'm also a very insecure person, so I could really see myself the unnamed narrator, and that really added to my appreciation of the book.

  13. I appreciated getting a different perspective on this book. I haven't read very many gothic fiction books, but those I have read I have really liked, so I'm interested to see what I think of this one.

  14. I haven't read Jamaica Inn and will do so soon (I hope) I understand why you weren't thrilled by this book. There is quite a large age difference between Maxim de Winter and Mrs. de Winter and she is a timid, scared, insecure character. I think it was rather common for older men to marry much younger women many years ago and I think part of the story was the narrator's growth and maturity when she realizes Mrs Danvers isn't to be feared.

    But we have all our different tastes and our likes and dislikes. That's what is so fun about this community - being able to discuss them. And I think your comments are quite relevant and definitely food for thought.

    Thanks Vivienne!

  15. I actually relate to their marriage quite well. My hubby is 29 years my senior and yes, he's old enough to be my father. Even older than my father for that matter. I think age is just a number. I enjoyed the book trememdously. :)

  16. Everyone feels differently about books I find and that's ok. I still haven't read this one although it's on my shelf and I really want to read it. I'll have to check out Jamaica Inn. I've heard of it but not sure what it's about.

  17. I haven't read it yet, but I still can't wait to dig into it. I have heard from many people that this is a book that some people love while other don't care too much for it. I think that there are just some aspects of it that seem to rub people the wrong way. There's nothing wrong with that. At least you gave it a shot. My sister happened to be one of the people who loved it. Its sitting on my shelf currently waiting to be read. When I get around to it, I'll let you know what I think.


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