Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: November 1994
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pgs
Source: Personal Library
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
From its opening line, I knew Daphne du Maurier would take me for an intriguing and exciting ride with the atmospheric setting she created around Manderley, an isolated mansion on the windswept Cornish coast where the brooding hero, Mr Maxim de Winter, resides.
The narrator, a young lady whose name we never know, gets acquainted with Mr de Winter when she is a companion to Mrs Van Hooper. Shy and with no friends to mingle with, the narrator is glad to find a friend in Mr de Winter and then they got married shortly.
During their acquaintance, the narrator has heard of the late Mrs de Winter and the cause of her death and while she could accept the fact being Maxim's second wife, what she couldn't stand is Mrs Danvers' cool and demeaning attitude towards her. Mrs Danvers is the housekeeper and she is fiercely devoted to the first Mrs de Winter, Rebecca. She feels the narrator is not up to par in all ways and although she still takes instructions from the narrator, she does it simply because it is her duty and not that she has accepted her being the new mistress of Manderley. Then, things began to worsen when she began to taunt the narrator until the latter began to start thinking that Maxim still love and think of Rebecca after all this time.
But, the real climax lies in the event of Manderley's annual costume ball and the mystery surrounding Rebecca's death and why. While the issues and mystery surrounding this classic literary may seem mild to some readers as compared to today's mystery and thrillers in which there are gory death scenes all over the place, what really makes Rebecca stands out among the others is Daphne du Maurier's writing style, the characterisations and most of all, the atmospheric setting she created that will get you hooked from the beginning till the end.
What is most unforgettable about Rebecca is the character of Mrs Danvers and the narrator respectively. Mrs Danvers always gave me the chills through her cool and sinister demeanour and very often her existence reminds me of a bitter, wandering spirit waiting for her moment to strike. On the other end, the narrator lacks the confidence and wit and although she tries very hard to keep up the role as the new mistress of Manderley, Mrs Danvers always managed to squash her last bit of confidence.
I really liked the way how Daphne du Maurier crafted Rebecca as she cleverly leads you into her world of Manderley and how the story slowly unfolds as you keep flipping through the pages. I especially liked her first opening line and the last line; I think it works perfectly and really suits the narrative style. Because I enjoyed reading Rebecca and Daphne du Maurier's writing style so much, I had gone out to buy four more of her books: Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, Don't Look Now and Other Stories, as well as the book which I'm currently reading, The Doll: The Lost Short Stories, a collection of short stories which she penned prior to writing Rebecca. I am sure I would be in for another intriguing and exciting ride, or perhaps the experience would be much greater considering that this short stories collection is much darker, so I have heard.