Rebecca (1938) by Daphe Du Maurier

Sinister. Dark. Gothic.

Short version: A classic gothic novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you like this genre, read it or watch the film produced by Alfred Hitchcock!

Click below for the full review:

Rebecca is a gothic suspense thriller that is hailed as one of the best classic literatures ever-written. I was expecting a mystery thriller but I was also pleasantly rewarded with an unusual, tumultuous yet beautiful love story.

Rebecca revolves around Manderley, a vast and remote (fictional) estate located in England bordered by the sea, the owner Maximilian De Winter; Mrs. Danvers (the deranged housekeeper who could not get over the death of Rebecca who was the mistress of Manderley), and the young unnamed second Mrs. De Winter.

The novel starts out by introducing the May-December love affair between the wealthy Maxim De Winter (42 years old)  and the main character whose name and age were never revealed. (I would guess that she was probably around 19 years old.) They met in Monte Carlo while the main character was working as a companion to a wealthy older social-climber.

I was holding my breath almost all throughout the whole novel. I grabbed every moment I could to keep on reading – while cooking, tuning out the TV after dinner, during breaks at work and late into the night. I finished this book within 4 days.

The novel is very descriptive of the handsome yet foreboding estate with the sea as its border and the beautiful garden in which different types of flowers were described in vivid colorful details. Despite the beauty of Manderley, it never gave the main character the feeling of ease and sense of belonging. She struggled with the legacy of the late wife – the sophisticated, beautiful and worldly Rebecca – whose material belongings, traditions and memories were very much present at the house. She felt that she would never measure up in the eyes of Mrs. Danvers and their neighbors. There was always a feeling of haunting and uncertainties. In the midst of the story, the introduction of a ghastly and macabre drowning incident threatened the relationship of the De Winters after Maxim revealed his secret to his young wife; finally got her assurance that she still loves him despite of and him finally feeling secure enough to let her know that he truly loves her, too.

This book has not only grabbed me from the very beginning but also allowed me to feel the emotions of each character. It made me feel afraid of the threatening and psychotic Mrs. Danvers. I was frustrated at the naïveté and extreme insecurities of the innocent yet intelligent young Mrs. De Winter, and angry at the lackadaisical way Maxim De Winter treated his young wife in the beginning. I felt the coldness of the sea, the dark ominous fog when it rolled in, the loneliness of Manderley. I felt the lovers’ desperate longing for one another. I felt as if I was an invisible witness to what was unfolding at the estate instead of a reader in my robe and pj’s in Northern California in 2015.

When I thought the crisis was finally over, there came another one that kept me holding my breath. I just could not put it down and I just wanted to find out what happened in the end! I finally finished reading the book at almost 1 o’ clock in the morning last night and re-read certain parts again this morning (the sweet romantic parts). What can I say, I will not admit it but I do like love stories! 😉

Rebecca has been compared to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, although I barely remember Jane Eyre anymore since I read it when I was in grade school (Yup! Have always been a voracious reader.) 

These are now my 3 favorite gothic novels of all times: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and now Rebecca. 

Rebecca is also an Alfred Hitchcock movie produced in 1940. I will definitely watch the movie after my heartbeat goes back to normal!

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