Published by Avon on 1938
Buy on The Book Depository
Hello booklings! Today I’m stepping SUPER far outside my comfort zone and sharing a video review! This is my first venture into BookTube (besides my woefully embarrassing video about the blog planner I created), so please be kind!
In this video, I discuss my reaction to reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier for the first time. For those of you who don’t like watching videos (or you can’t withstand my pitiful attempt at speaking into a webcam), I’ve summed up my thoughts below.
Whenever fall rolls around, I find myself in the mood for a dark, creepy gothic classic. Last year I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, which I was surprised to discover that I really loved. This year, I picked up Rebecca, having heard great things about it and seen on numerous “spooky fall reads” lists. But to my disappointment, I really didn’t find it to be all that spooky.
The novel follows a young woman (we never learn her name) who is working as a companion to an older woman in Monte Carlo. While there, she meets Maxim de Winter, a charming, wealthy widower who had lost his wife, Rebecca, in a tragic accident the year before. Our narrator falls in love with Maxim, who quickly marries her and whisks her off to Manderley, his huge, famous estate.
Life at Manderley isn’t what the new Mrs. de Winter had anticipated. She doesn’t know how to run such a massive estate, her husband isn’t as warm and caring as she had hoped, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is downright cold to her. Mrs. Danvers had been very close to Rebecca and is angry to see Maxim’s new wife try to take her place. On top of this cold reception, our narrator is made to feel inferior to Rebecca by nearly everyone she meets; she is constantly hearing about how beautiful and vivacious Rebecca was. Everyone seems to have been captivated by Manderley’s former mistress, and the new Mrs. de Winter feels like she can’t possibly measure up. All of these things make the narrator feel insecure, like a little girl playing house.
And that’s… pretty much it. My copy of the book is 380 pages, and nothing really suspenseful happens until 100 pages from the end. A big, dark revelation is made, and the rest of the novel is spent resolving this discovery. The cover copy on my book calls Rebecca a “masterpiece of romantic suspense” and alludes to “an eerie presentiment of evil.” I didn’t find this book to be remotely romantic or suspenseful, and I thought the promise of evil was a bit over-the-top. Led by the marketing and the way people talk about this book, I was expecting more literal ghosts and hauntings than this book supplied.
I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I went into it expecting it to be just a character study about a young woman who feels inferior and out of her depth. As a romantic suspense, it didn’t work for me. I’m really not trying to say that this book is bad. It just wasn’t what I was expecting, and I felt a bit let down.
If you have read Rebecca, what did you think of it? What were you expecting when you went into it, and how did it measure up to your expectations?
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