“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”
Well if she did I’m surprised it wasn’t a nightmare. Honestly, the unnamed Narrator who becomes the second Mrs de Winter didn’t have a very good run at Manderley did she?
I started listening to the audiobook of Rebecca with no preconceived ideas which is always lovely. I was expecting a Bronte-esque style of novel similar to Jane Eyre, although to be honest I’m not sure why I thought that much. Perhaps that was how Mum recommended it to me?
Our narrator, travels back in time and retells of her time at Manderley. How she met Mr de Winter abroad as a young woman and marries him, how she returns to Manderley as Mrs de Winter within a year of Rebecca’s death. It seems almost as though Rebecca is a main character though she is dead throughout the story. The second Mrs de Winter can feel that shadow over her shoulder. She is convinced that when her husband is looking at her, he is thinking about how much he misses the first Mrs de Winter, that the staff when attending her are wishing they were attending Rebecca. Mrs de Winter is a shy creature, socially awkward, young, and from a different class than is usually seen at Manderley. She tries to keep things run as they have always been run, she eats of a menu chosen by Rebecca, amongst furniture chosen by Rebecca, with a husband who had chosen Rebecca.
This, up until this point is pretty much the novel I was expecting to read. Enter Mrs Danvers. Mrs Danvers is the nastiest piece of work in any piece of literature I’ve read for quite some time… Keeping in mind I just finished reading DRACULA!
Honestly when she started talking to Mrs de Winter and explaining how devoted she had been to Rebecca and how Mrs de Winter will never live up to Rebecca in anyone’s mind, especially her husbands. I wanted to push Mrs Danvers out the window myself! What a horrid creature.
The main thing I love about this story is the way that Daphne du Maurier talks about things that may have been. For example one night when Mrs de Winter has been upset and is considering not attending her own ball, she looks ahead to what would be said about her. The way the guests would talk, how the staff would sit around drinking coffee and discuss why their mistress hadn’t come downstairs, what Mrs Danvers would think. This technique was brilliant. I think it showed a great awareness from Mrs de Winter, she was no fool and as she grew up, her thoughts more accurately depicted her social standing. Rebecca takes quite a lot of twists and turns and things are not as they seem in the beginning at all. Rebecca does in a sense return, to complicate the newlywed’s marriage, and there is an inquest to get through, and some detective work on the part of our main characters. I won’t go into detail because sometimes it’s quite nice to not know what to expect. Although after reading some reviews it seems like a lot of people are made to read this in school? I wasn’t, but I’m glad to have read it now.
I have since learned that there is a Hitchcock movie adaption so I will try to get my hands on that and see how it measures up. My Mum tells me that Mrs Danvers is miscast so if that is the case, it won’t stand up at all.
If you haven’t read Rebecca already, pop off to the local second hand bookshop and give it a go. Or even better, get a copy of the BBC audiobook. You won’t be disappointed.
Until next time…