Wednesday, March 17, 2021

[Review] - Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I am assuming most readers have already read the classic gothic tale REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier. I, for one, am late in the game with this novel. I saw the Albert Hitchcock Oscar-winning adaptation way back during my childhood, and while the plot details are scarce in my memory, I did like the film. In early January, I watched Netflix's 2020 remake starring Lily James, Armie Hammer (the less I talk about him, the better), and Kristin Scott Thomas. Even though the gothic-aspects were watered down compared to Hitchcock's vision, for the most part, I liked it enough to rewatch it twice. Later, I remembered seeing the book with a tie-in cover at a Walmart the previous month. I had almost picked up the book but decided against it at the last minute. Of course, I had regretted it after viewing the Netflix film, and luckily for me, the store still had the book in stock.

British publisher Victor Gollancz signed Daphne du Maurier to a three-book deal and a £1,000 advance in 1937, with the first being REBECCA, which came out in 1938. Despite two questionable plagiarism allegations from two other authors, REBECCA has sold nearly 3 million copies between 1938 and 1965 and has been continuously in print ever since.

REBECCA tells the tale of the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter, who meets her soon-to-be husband while staying at the Hôtel Côte d'Azur in Monte Carlo with her employer Mrs. Van Hopper. Despite the twenty-year age gap, she falls in love with the mysterious rich widower, Maxim, and they ended up eloping. After their short honeymoon, the newlyweds travel to Maxim's country estate, Manderley, and from thereon, everything changes.

Mrs. Maxim de Winters lives in the shadow of her husband's former wife, Rebecca, who died during a sailing accident the previous year. Every corner, in every room, is haunted by Rebecca in some shape or form. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeepers, was devoted to Rebecca - and still is, and will do anything to make the new Mrs. Maxim de Winters's life a living hell. 


The Netflix tie-in edition includes experts from Daphne du Maurier's The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories, an essay on the real Manderley, and the original epilogue to the book. 

Final Thoughts

A friend had sent me a bookmark this past Christmas that reads, "Never Judge A Book By Its Movie," and that sums up what was rattling in my head after reading REBECCA. I had always heard great praise for Daphne du Maurier's gothic writings, and I'm glad I took my sweet time reading REBECCA so I could lavish the beautiful narration and haunting descriptions. 


At first glance, one would think REBECCA is s a ghost story, but it's more of a gothic romantic mystery with remarkable characters that you will love and hate, some more than others. It's an incredible story that every reader should read at least once, if not more.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great review of one of my favourite novels of all time. I would definitely love to have that toe-in edition on my shelf. I have a very old one that I'm very proud of, but that one would be a lovely, well - tie in!!


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