Eleanor Blair (lnr) wrote,
Eleanor Blair

46: Rebecca: Daphne du Maurier: ISBN 1-84408-038-2

I read this once as a teenager, on my mother's recommendation and enjoyed it, but remembered very little about it. When I saw it on offer (3 books for £10) I thought the time had come to reacquaint myself with it. I'm glad I did. I knew it was a fairly dark tale, but I'd forgotten just how very sadly it ends. And in fact it shows its colours very early on, since it starts with the narrator telling of her life almost of exile, and only then rewinds to show how it came to be.

It's a book of contrasts, rich with poor, dark with light, beauty and plainness, and passion of one sort or another rears its head over and over again. I always liked the way the narrator is essentially nameless, we know her by her husband's name, which was also the surname of the Rebecca of the title, his previous wife. It's hard to know where the writer would like our sympathies to lie. The young narrator seems in some ways lacking in anything to make us truly love her, although I think I like her best. Max de Winter is a dark brooding character, who turns out to be more than simply an unhappy widower.

Rebecca herself haunts the whole book. The introduction to this edition suggests that the author in fact felt more sympathetic to Rebecca than I can find myself to be. That her situation was brought upon her by the strictures of her time and her husband. That in marrying de Winter she was made to live a life that was unsuited to her, and that in forcing her to bend to his will he was cruel. To me it seems that it was something she chose. She wanted both lives, but she wanted to live them on her own terms, and was not willing to compromise at all. And at the end she chose her own way too,

To the very end the book keeps you in suspense. And throughout it's full of lovely images. I love the writing, and I think not just because lately I've been reading so many children's books. I'd definitely recommend this one. Especially I think to Rachel, if you haven't already read it.

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